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ALBAS: Needs of rural Canadians

Dan Albas a Member of Parliament.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Dan Albas
August 04, 2019 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Every summer since I was first elected I have traveled throughout every community in my riding as part of my annual summer listening tour.

 

Citizens deserve to be heard and meeting with people directly in their home communities is a very important part of being a Member of Parliament.

The feedback and concerns that I hear are part of the focus for when the House of Commons resumes typically in September.

This year, the House is not expected to resume given that the next federal election will be in October.

I am frequently reminded at how far away the "Ottawa bubble" is when it comes to those who live in Canadian rural communities.

In several parts of my riding there are no public transit options.

Where there was once Greyhound service in some areas, it now no longer exists.

Some areas have no access to natural gas for home heating.

There is also a lack of internet access in many areas and in some cases no wireless signal whatsoever.

For this reason, both the Provincial and Federal Government have promised to increase rural internet connectivity.

Despite these promises, as many rural residents without wireless service can confirm, little to no progress has been made.

Recently, with the fall election fast approaching, the Liberal Government made yet another promise with regards to rural internet connectivity.

The Liberals announced a down the road program to pay $600 million over 10 years to what was described as an "Ottawa based company" to launch low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

LEO satellites orbit at a height of roughly 1,000 kilometers, compared to conventional satellites that are typically orbit the earth at a range over 30,000 kilometers.

LEO satellites can provide much faster wireless connections to hard to reach, isolated locations.

LEO satellite technology is an emerging industry with several international private sector companies investing in new technology in a race to get LEO satellites launched.

This leads to my question for this week.

The Liberal government's track record on rural internet connectivity has not been stellar.

As the Auditor General concluded in a report from last year, the connectivity program did not get value for money.

The AG also determined that the Trudeau Government was hindered by having no overall rural connectivity strategy.

This remains unchanged.

People in rural and remote communities deserve better than a program where under 15% of the promised funding for internet infrastructure to date, has been spent, as is the case under this Liberal government.

My question to you:

Should the next government prioritize having a comprehensive strategy to make sure rural and remote communities have internet connectivity?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

— Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna (specific boundaries), West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.


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