Thank you, Madam Chair.
With all due respect to the committee members and the study on smart communities, I think we can bring in all kinds of witnesses to hear about their experiences. We have heard from many, and heaven knows how important the subject is, but the priority, even before we start thinking about smart cities, should be on hearing from communities that do not currently have access to fibre optics, that do not have access to the technology. As things stand, multiple regions across the country simply do not have access to it.
The minister has all the necessary authority in that regard and makes his infrastructure choices. The government announced a $180-billion plan and says that the infrastructure bank is coming soon. We should know a bit more. Perhaps the bank could even support Canada-wide projects aimed at getting everyone connected.
At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' annual conference last week, we learned that the federal government intends to hold a smart cities challenge, so the government already seems to have a clear sense of what it wants to do on that front.
I think the people the committee should hear from are those who do not have that access. What should the government do? What should the committee recommend to the Department of Finance and the government to make this an essential service that is accessible to everyone?
That said, I'm not trying to take anything away from the rest of it, but, as the expression goes, we're putting the cart before the horse. It's urgent that we get everyone across the country connected, no matter where they live. That is what we need to build on in order to help all municipalities.
Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, in short, all the big cities, have been working on this for a long time now, believe me. For years, municipal associations have been meeting with experts from all over the world to get advice on best practices. They are already active, they know the programs, they know which doors to knock on for the funding to carry out these projects. They don't need a challenge.
We aren't the ones in the lead; I would even say we're behind them. They are already ahead of us.
We need to give this serious consideration. We need to find witnesses who will make the recommendations that will help the government, so it can make the right decisions to ensure everyone is connected.
That is my humble opinion, anyway. Otherwise, it will simply be a waste of time.