Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
My thanks to the witnesses for being here.
I am new to this committee and this is only my second meeting. Therefore, I don't know the full history of the witnesses who appeared or about your previous testimony. I apologize in advance if my questions may seem inappropriate to you.
I come from an extremely rural region: not the far north of Quebec, not an island lost in the Atlantic or Pacific or Sable Island, but Madawaska-Restigouche in northern New Brunswick, a place that is well within Canada.
Across my riding, the lack of broadband service is an irritant that prevents us from developing our full economic potential. I am talking about my region, but the situation is the same in many places in Atlantic Canada or elsewhere in the country, of course. The first casualty therefore is economic development, which leads to the exodus of people from our region who are educated and who could contribute to it, but who look for work elsewhere. Without economic development, there is no growth, and rural areas are being emptied to the benefit of large urban areas. I know you are already familiar with the picture I'm painting for you.
However, in addition to the economic development, there is the whole issue of safety. In my region, the vast majority of economic activity is based on forestry. There are a lot of forestry operations, where workers can get hurt. However, those areas have no access to any cellular signals. Access to ambulance services, hospitals, police and firefighters is a matter of safety.
So we are really lagging behind the Canadian average in terms of safety and economic development.
Mr. Scott, I think you said that basic telecommunications services are now essential, as was the railway to travel across Canada in another era. The construction of the railway was a national project led by the government, not the private sector. Setting up telephone service in New Brunswick was not a private sector project either, which makes me think that perhaps we should study that aspect of the issue. However, that is not what we are talking about today.
I have a question for my friends in the department, either Mr. Knubley or one of his colleagues. To pick up on what Mr. Christopherson was saying, has a study been conducted to establish the strategy and funding necessary to resolve this issue once and for all across Canada?