I don't have any other questions, but I typically explain to our guests that, when we meet like this, we provide a report following it and I do as a result have a couple of questions that have been given to me by the analysts.
Before we get to those questions, I would that although this is a highly technical type of meeting that is televised, many Canadians may be watching it because they watch these types of programs—though their eyes may just glaze over. As Mr. Christopherson suggested, a majority of Canadians live in urban areas and say, “Connectivity problems, what problems? I can game, I can watch a movie, and I can do so many different things.”
However, the Auditor General's report explains the reason for this study, namely, that in 2016 about 96% of urban Canadians had access to broadband Internet speeds of 50 megabytes per second for downloading data and 10 megabytes per second for uploading data, but only 39% of Canadians living in rural and remote areas had access to those speeds.
I represent a riding that is not so much remote as very rural. Within my central Alberta riding, there are what we call the “special areas”, where I know that, when I get into those areas for meetings, I will just have to watch the phone trying to connect. This gap between urban and rural areas is part of why the Auditor General's office did this study, and out of the study, although there has been some improvement over the years, there are some troubling facts.
I should also say—and some of our analysts have worked on indigenous files before—that in paragraph 1.8 of its report, the Auditor General's office noted that “The Commission called broadband a 'transformative enabling technology' and concluded that any Canadian without broadband access is profoundly disadvantaged.” You know this, but I want the viewers watching to understand why this is so significant.
Governments have stated that we want to see improved health care for our indigenous people and those in remote and rural areas. We want to see specialized health, where they have access to specialized health. Part of the universal health care act says that universality, accessibility and reasonable access to common delivery are very important. Those are three of the five principles of the Canada Health Act. Well, specializing in health care in remote areas means that we need broadband, and that it has to be a priority.
I think all of us realize that it's going to be costly. It was costly originally to get a railway out to the far remote parts, but we said we had to do it. Consequently, this is what governments have said.
Health care, education.... If we're going to see indigenous and remote areas of the north, especially the eastern Arctic, improve their lot in life and have more opportunities, it's going to be through education. How do they do it? We do it through broadband, so that's why it's important.
If anyone is going to have a business in those special areas, in rural areas—so many home businesses are now starting up—they completely rely on being able to have the opportunities with this business because of broadband and access. This is part of the reason.
We have 15 minutes left, so pardon the rant.
Then we get into page 13 of the report, and we see, “Lack of transparency in the selection process”. This, to me, is one of the big problems, and we've talked about it today, the lack of transparency in selecting the processes for delivery.