Access to high-speed Internet is no longer a luxury; it is a service all Canadians should expect to benefit from. This is crucial for not only businesses, but also children who wish to further their education through distance education or adults who want to take new skills training courses to improve their job prospects.
I have heard from many constituents about the frustrations of inconsistent Internet access in parts of the riding. In many rural and remote communities, challenging geography and smaller populations present barriers to private sector investment in building and maintaining high-speed Internet infrastructure. This is an issue that has started being addressed.
Last week, we announced that five Northwestern Ontario communities, four in the Kenora riding, will be connected to fibre-optic cable high-speed Internet. The federal government is investing $39.2 million into the project through its Connect to Innovate program, which will enable Internet providers to upgrade their communication infrastructure, particularly in the remote and rural areas of the riding.
High-speed Internet upgrades are about connection. Connecting the North will improve business practices, improve education, and improve quality of life. This is a step in the right direction for a region that for far too long has been left out when it comes to broadband infrastructure upgrades. However, I must say that there is still much more to be done.
Being connected online is a wonderful tool, but we still need all of our communities to be connected in a literal sense; to be accessible by road as well as by air. The benefits of being able to get in your car or take a plane to visit a community cannot be overstated, whether it’s boosting the local economy or affording social opportunities and eliminating isolation. For these reasons, I continue to call on both the provincial and federal governments to make the necessary investments to ensure that the riding receives its fair share when it comes to infrastructure investments.
We must also continue to invest in social infrastructure. Providing welcoming and engaging opportunities for all those who visit and live in the North is essential to creating a vibrant economy and becoming a desired destination. We need people to know the North isn’t just a wonderful place to visit, but also an optimal choice to live and grow a business.
There was a time when phone landlines and cable television were all that was needed. That time has passed. Breathtaking advancements in technology have changed the way we live, the way we access information, the way we communicate, and the way we do business; it’s time for everyone in the North to be on a level playing field with the rest of Canada.
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