By Parry-Sound Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison
We’re done waiting!
That’s the message I’ve been getting loud and clear from constituents who are fed up with the low quality and high cost of rural internet service.
“The time for being patient is long gone,” reads one of many hundreds of emails I’ve received.
“We’re six months into a pandemic that’s made the internet more important than ever. But not only has the federal government failed to ensure people can afford to connect, it’s publicly prioritizing Big Telecom’s profits over the interests of Canadians.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The current state of rural internet service in far too many parts of Parry Sound-Muskoka is simply unacceptable. It’s too expensive, it’s unreliable, and, in many cases, it’s simply not available.
Our internet challenges aren’t just inconvenient. It’s essential.
This year, we’ve all been reminded of the importance of connectivity as we work our way through the COVID-19 crisis.
Working from home, educating our kids, running our businesses—these are the fundamentals. We need affordable, reliable, and accessible internet access to run our lives these days.
Yet because of the high cost of internet access, I’ve even had constituents tell me they’ve had to choose between educating or feeding their kids.
The status quo is simply unacceptable.
That’s why I have made it a priority to bring up this issue in Parliament. In fact, my very first question as an MP in the House of Commons was about rural internet service in Parry Sound-Muskoka.
I have raised this issue several other times, and in other forums, including social media. I have received no positive answers from the Liberal government.
I have even invited the federal Minister responsible for rural internet and broadband service to come to our area to witness first-hand what it’s like to be cut off from the internet.
We’re still waiting for an answer.
To make matters worse, recently the Trudeau Cabinet actually overturned a CRTC decision that would have benefited consumers.
For our part, the Conservative Opposition will continue to do our best to hold the current federal government accountable for both its actions, as well as its inaction.
Meanwhile, our Caucus Shadow Minister on rural connectivity undertook a national consultation last spring with Canadians—a dialogue we promoted locally—to try to better understand the priorities of taxpaying consumers.
And the results were clear:
We need more competition in the consumer marketplace to keep prices down;
We need direct federal investment in key priority underserviced areas to improve access;
And we need to develop better local, provincial and national partnerships to get the job done now.
(Photo of Parliament Hill by festivio on Pixabay. Photo of Scott Aitchison courtesy of Scott Aitchison.)
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