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Results: 1 - 15 of 29
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
First of all, Mr. Berthelette, at the outset, condolences for the loss of Michael Ferguson.
Many more communities got service than intended in the program. The program had a target of 300 and, as we just heard from Mr. Knubley, some 900 communities got service, including some 190 indigenous communities. How is this a failure?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
I want to make sure of that.
In my own riding, some $13 million in federal money out of a $47 million project will put 16,000 households across 17 municipalities on fibre optic in a territory three times the size of P.E.I. In what way did we not get value for the money we spent?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
Would not facilitate or did not achieve value for money? What we see in the projects that I've seen across the country is quite good value for the money considering that it typically costs $2,000 or $3,000 per household to connect rural to fibre. In a lot of cases, this program came in well below that.
I'm trying to understand the basis on which this didn't get value for money.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
In the opening comments, there was a reference by Mr. Berthelette about displacing private funds. I find it to be a big, red flag when I hear that, because it's based on an assumption that private funds are interested in coming to these communities. What we see is that private funds don't come to the communities; they go into the downtown core of a rural area, if there is a downtown core of a village, and they'll offer service there, but everybody out of range, just forget them; they're not worth funding and not worth investing in. Private companies only come to those areas when the public invests money, and then they say they're going to lose their market share, so now they're going to start investing.
I have a lot of trouble swallowing the concept that this program in any way displaced private funds. If anything, private funds tend to displace public funds when they arrive.
How do you see that assessment?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
On that basis, the 4,000 communities that have not yet received funding should, more or less, all have private investment coming in and we shouldn't need to continue to worry about this.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
In the audit, it sounds as if you're not happy with that, but here you're saying you are happy with that. Are we happy with how the program went?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
Okay. My assessment of what I'm seeing is that, if there's any problem to identify here, it's that there simply wasn't enough money in the program to begin with. But as for the operation of the program, I have trouble finding the problems that have been identified in the audit.
I do have questions for the other witnesses as well, and I'll move on to them. I might come back to you later on.
Mr. Scott, you mentioned that you have a limited but important role. Do you find the CRTC's hands are tied in any way, and is there any way for us to help untie them?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
One of the problems that I keep running into is market position abuse by a large telecom, mainly Bell, in our area. Do you have the tools in your mandate to deal with the problems brought up by vertical integration in telecom and market position abuse, for example, making it very, very difficult to get onto hydro poles to put a new fibre line on for a different company?
View René Arseneault Profile
Lib. (NB)
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?
View René Arseneault Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
I'll be sharing my time with Mr. Arseneault.
I have a couple of quick questions, but, first of all, despite what my colleagues on the other side are saying, it seems like this strategy is working and there are 900 communities connected or being connected.
My first question is for the deputy minister.
How are we ensuring that the connectivity infrastructure is designed to grow and expand, i.e., to meet newer and higher speed demands? Are the conduits being made? Is the infrastructure being built so that we can expand to faster speeds, or will it have to be rebuilt every time? Is that being looked at when this infrastructure is being built?
View Randeep Sarai Profile
Lib. (BC)
By that same token, how are you making sure there are clusters, certain service providers? If there are only small communities, with very small populations, you don't want to have Telus in one place and Rogers in another. How are we making sure there is enough critical mass for a cluster to keep expanding, making sure that the speed and the type of service is adequate for the technological needs?
View René Arseneault Profile
Lib. (NB)
Mine is 12,000.
Thank you for your answers. They are very informative, as I am no technician.
There must be territorial, provincial and federal agreements or collaboration. I think Canadians can do that. As for technological complications, the technicians are there to help and support us.
It's all about money. Two years ago, I went around the main suppliers. We know them well. I will not name them, but they are always the same. It was clear that they were reluctant to connect the remote areas.
Let me oversimplify a little. Basically, they told us that they would connect these regions if they were paid for it, but that they were not interested in investing in this connectivity because it was not financially profitable. We live in a capitalist world.
I now turn to Mr. Scott from the CRTC.
The major Internet service providers have an oligopoly; they agree among themselves. We all know how it goes, we are not naive. The licence that the CRTC grants to those providers is a privilege. Within the limits of its jurisdiction, would the CRTC have a way of making them aware that the licence it gives them to expand their services includes an obligation to serve all Canadians, from coast to coast or from forest to forest? If so, could you tell me how this could be done legally?
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