Recently I wrote an MP report on a variety of subjects that also included the concern of interest groups using the courts on issues that they often fail to advance through a democratically elected government.
It is a situation that all levels of government — municipal, regional, provincial and federal — and related agencies deal with and one that taxpayers pay the bill for.
Within a day of the report being published, a follow-up radio interview was arranged out of Ottawa along with a number of related print and social media articles, and within 72 hours, a conversation connecting people from all parts of Canada was well underway.
The intent of this week’s report is not to recycle the subject from last week but rather to point out the importance of the Internet and how that can enhance our ability to communicate, to do business and to share ideas and discussion all across Canada at a rapid pace, much as was experienced with last week’s MP report.
News, events, commerce, education, civic engagement and more are all readily available to citizens of all ages as the Internet has become integrated into our society.
Unfortunately, a segment of our citizens are regrettably entirely shut out of the same online opportunities that so many take for granted. In some areas of Canada (and this includes parts of Okanagan-Coquihalla) there is no Internet availability or wireless connectivity available. A lack of cellular service in some regions also creates added challenges for emergency responders and those who may require their assistance.
In response to unserviced areas of Canada, our government has introduced the Connecting Canadians program that has a goal of connecting roughly 280,000 Canadians who currently lack high-speed Internet services.
A target has been set that 98 percent of Canadian homes by 2017 will have access to Internet services with a speed of five megabytes per second.
How will this work? The first step is to identify those areas of Canada that are currently lacking in sufficient service. As part of my summer listening tour, I am hoping to hear from citizens who either are impacted by a lack of service or possibly have friends and families that are currently impacted.
The next step after affected areas are identified will be for Internet service providers to apply for grants to bring service into areas currently lacking. Some rural communities like Logan Lake have already shown interest in this program.
This process is targeted to occur in the fall of this year so that grants can be awarded in the spring of 2015.
Once the grants are distributed, projects can begin and ideally by this time next year, areas currently lacking Internet services can be online and part of Canada’s Internet infrastructure.
If you or someone you know currently lacks Internet services, please send further information to my office for follow up.
I can be reached at email@example.com or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla.