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Results: 1 - 15 of 17
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?
Philippe Le Goff
View Philippe Le Goff Profile
Philippe Le Goff
2019-02-21 9:15
Mr. Chair, I would say that our main concern about this was that, in some cases, private funds could have been spent anyway despite the program. Because the program existed, the private funds took advantage of that.
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.
Jerome Berthelette
View Jerome Berthelette Profile
Jerome Berthelette
2019-02-21 9:16
Mr. Chair, I think the philosophy behind the programs of the department is that they're looking to private funds to expand broadband. So when we looked at the program, we were looking at how you maximize private funding. There will be cases where private funds are not going to be made available because of the isolation of the communities, perhaps, and the cost. However, there may be cases where a combination of private funds and public funds is going to be needed, and ideally we will look to the department to make sure that it maximizes private funds and maximizes the benefit that we get from the public funds.
I think what we heard today is that they've managed to get a one-for-one investment from the private funds, and I think that's probably a good thing.
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?
Jerome Berthelette
View Jerome Berthelette Profile
Jerome Berthelette
2019-02-21 9:17
I think that, at the time, we were looking at how the program was designed. We were looking at making recommendations that would help to ensure that the department achieved its goal, which was to try to maximize the private funds. At this point, with the knowledge we have, I'd say they're being fairly successful at achieving that goal. But we haven't audited this, so I think I will hold off on saying whether it is as successful as it could be until we've actually audited what has transpired so far.
John Knubley
View John Knubley Profile
John Knubley
2019-02-21 9:46
Because no one could agree on a common technological goal: provinces might have 30 as a goal, for five to one. Technology is always an issue. Various players don't always agree on the extent to which the private sector will go in and solve a situation or where they will invest. As the Auditor General pointed out, in terms of value for money, a big issue is, how do you balance public investment with private sector investment? Even in the case of our 50/10 goal, we have already identified that we're going to move from 84 to 90, really, with private sector investment. Private sector companies invest $12 billion a year to do this.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
That is understood. There is no private sector investment to displace, because you were in an area remote enough that a private sector operator could never profitably invest in a place. I wouldn't consider that displacing private investment, just because you've spent money there and not had it matched.
John Knubley
View John Knubley Profile
John Knubley
2019-02-21 10:24
I'll give you a few cases where the projects took place. One would be in northern Quebec, where we were very partnered with Quebec. In fact, the partnership there is probably a model for how we move forward with an integrated collaborative strategy. We had common applications and common investments. We provided, depending on the area, between 90% and 100% of the funding because there was no investment.
In northern Ontario, five communities are currently served by satellite. Again, no, there's private sector involvement in terms of the satellite, but in terms of moving to a more fibre-to-home operation—
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
Fair enough. I understand that, but the Auditor General states in the report that they are concerned that the program was to avoid displacing private sector investment, and they're concerned that is a failure of the department, that the department—
John Knubley
View John Knubley Profile
John Knubley
2019-02-21 10:25
I would maybe rephrase it, not as a failure but as an agreement with the Auditor General, and note that every time we do a project on broadband in rural and remote areas, the challenges, the balance, the public investment and the private sector investment...we try to do the project in a way that does not crowd out private sector investment that otherwise would have taken place.
John Knubley
View John Knubley Profile
John Knubley
2019-02-21 10:25
The other thing I would just emphasize—maybe you should turn to the Auditor General office after I say this—is that they were looking at the design phase of our project. Again, I think we've moved past the design phase, and we're talking now about—
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