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Results: 91 - 105 of 159
John Knubley
View John Knubley Profile
John Knubley
2019-02-21 10:04
We don't use the portal for an application. There are issues, in terms of the ISP footprint, around commercial sensitivity. Basically, again, we are trying to promote small ISP participation. Recently, separate from the program, we've been consulting with the small ISPs to understand what the challenges are in their programming and how we can do a better job in incorporating their interests. In our projects, for example, we definitely want to ensure indigenous involvement, ISP involvement, in the actual delivery of the program. I think we were quite successful in getting indigenous companies in the CTI case.
Is the number 190?
Lisa Setlakwe
View Lisa Setlakwe Profile
Lisa Setlakwe
2019-02-21 10:05
Yes, 190 communities; and a third of the funding is directed to indigenous communities.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
I've been following the bouncing ball, as well as looking at the paper trail we have, and I'm still not satisfied that we've got to the nub of this lack of a national broadband strategy, which was recommended time after time after time for 12 years.
When the Auditor General went in and asked why there wasn't one, according to what we've heard today, the department was—and I'm quoting—“reluctant to establish a strategy with an objective that could not be reached with the available funding.”
I didn't hear anything about nuance, about all the problems of trying to bring all the people together. In fact, when it's difficult and tough like this, with multiple dimensions to the complexity of it, there is all the more need for a strategy, even if the first thing you say is that we have to get all the provinces, territories, and federal government on the same page in terms of what we agree on: “This is what we need to do. Here's who's responsible. Here's the process. Here's the time frame.”
Instead, what we're hearing, in my opinion, is from governments who have refused...because they didn't want to face the bill. I get the politics of it, but that doesn't make it right in terms of governance. That strategy needed to be in place, and the response at the time that the Auditor General went in was that they hadn't yet done it. Now they're bragging about the fact that they're doing it.
Let's take a look at the time frame. The audit was done about 18 months ago, which is usually when they begin. The deputy mentioned that there was a meeting in June of last year and on October 26, and between those two meetings that's when it was decided that there needed to be a strategy—just in time to get in front of the public hearing on the auditor's report.
If nothing else, I want to claim victory for the auditing system we have in Canada. After 12 years of governments—plural—dragging their heels on doing the right thing in terms of public policy, it took the Auditor General to roll in there and hold them to account. They then come to this committee where, under the glare of public scrutiny, they now acknowledge that they're going to give us a national strategy. I would submit to you, Chair, that if we'd not had an audit, there still would be no plans for a national strategy.
I have to say that I am rejecting the answers I'm hearing from the deputy.
I understand why you're saying it, and I understand it's part of your role, but you also have a responsibility as an accounting officer now. Unlike when I first got here and the rules weren't clear, now they are clear.
The public interest would only have been served if there was a national strategy, and there wasn't one, because no government wanted to be held to account for not spending the money it would take to implement it. That's what it looks like to me.
The important thing right now for me is that the strategy is on track—at least it's there.
I also want to mention, if I can parenthetically, that again, this is one of the issues that most of us don't get too cranked up about, because we have the best service. Most Canadians live in urban centres and everything is fine.
However, when I listen to my colleague, Carol Hughes, talk about what's going on in her riding, and especially when she ties it to the banks that are closing branches in her rural areas, the need for Internet is not only beyond necessity, but is right up there with housing and health and food.
My question, Mr. Berthelette, is on whether you have had a chance to see the strategy at all.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
Do you have any current plans to go in and examine the strategy?
I only say that in the context that often the AG will signal ahead of time, “Look, for particular reasons we're going back in in short order on this one.”
Sometimes they don't.... Are there any current plans to do that?
Jerome Berthelette
View Jerome Berthelette Profile
Jerome Berthelette
2019-02-21 10:10
At this point, we have no current plans to follow up.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
Okay, that's good to know. We can do some follow-up through our report and make sure there are timelines and accountability.
I want to ask one more question if I have time. It sounds like I'm going to get one in.
It's probably affirming the same thing, Mr. Berthelette, but you said something that struck me. You were responding to a question by a colleague, and you were talking about the value for money. At one point you said there were other matters, not just value for dollars, that gave you some concern.
I wonder what exactly you meant by that. It was in response to a member suggesting that things weren't all that bad when you look at what was achieved. You talked about what you went in and examined, and you said that there were other matters, not just value for dollar, that you believed came into play.
I'll give you a chance to comment on that.
Philippe Le Goff
View Philippe Le Goff Profile
Philippe Le Goff
2019-02-21 10:11
Mr. Chair, one of the concerns we had at the time of the audit was that the priorities made under the connect to innovate program were not made public. The areas that would be considered first were not made public, so we had cases where local groups made some proposals, business cases, but they didn't know that in their province it was almost always determined that another area would get the funding first.
John Knubley
View John Knubley Profile
John Knubley
2019-02-21 10:12
In all respects, what I understand is that we follow a very strong due diligence process. I think the issues at play here are—and they relate to the overall strategy as well—is what are the technologies at play and what are the specific community needs? Again, this links back to technology in part. One of the things is that there's no one solution to putting broadband into any one place: You can do hardwire, you can do mobile, you can do text mobile, you can do satellite. One of the things you need to do from a technological perspective is to try take into account what the appropriate requirements are for any one particular area.
In this case, I do want to stress why the issue of value-for-money gets complex. Given where you come from, you'll understand that these are communities of the remotest type. We're talking about northern Quebec. We're talking about northern Ontario.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
Deputy, I'm sorry to interrupt you, sir, but I have very limited time. In fact, I'm probably on borrowed time. I have to say, the theory is that there were decisions made about where money was allocated and because the information wasn't public, we don't really know. The Auditor General is saying that it wasn't necessarily value for money. That's a nice way of saying that it seems like somebody's invisible hand is in there moving stuff around and it's hard to hold people to account because there's no public information.
Thank you, Chair.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'm going to stay on the topic of value for money for a second.
Telecommunications companies invest on the basis of a three-year return on investment. That's the speed they do it. Is that the speed of return you expect of government investment? That's for the Auditor General.
Philippe Le Goff
View Philippe Le Goff Profile
Philippe Le Goff
2019-02-21 10:14
It was not something that we considered in the audit, Mr. Chair.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
Okay. Do you consider telecommunications to be strictly a business, or is it or should it be a public infrastructure?
Jerome Berthelette
View Jerome Berthelette Profile
Jerome Berthelette
2019-02-21 10:14
Mr. Chair, I think the department has already more or less stated it has both business aspects and public necessity to it.
Results: 91 - 105 of 159 | Page: 7 of 11

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