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Fast and reliable broadband Internet is essential to our economy and our daily lives. Ensuring all Canadians can connect online is key to building a strong recovery that everyone can take part in.

Having a fast and reliable Internet connection means entrepreneurs can sell their products globally. It means doctors can access patient records, farmers can find real-time data, municipalities can serve residents better—and communities can reach their potential. Yet COVID-19 has exposed how unequally people access this vital tool.

When lockdowns forced Canadians online for work and school, some simply didn’t have that option: two million of us still can’t access an affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet connection. Most of those Canadians live in rural, remote, northern and Indigenous communities. The pandemic has also underscored how income inequality can put digital services out of reach in communities of all sizes.

Municipalities have welcomed recent federal investments broadband infrastructure. Now we need to ensure these investments drive results for people on the ground—quickly. let’s ensure all Canadians can connect online—to modern commerce, to modern opportunities, and to each other. Let’s make sure every community is part of Canada’s recovery.

Building a framework for success

  • Convene a national roundtable on digital infrastructure—with all orders of government—to develop a Canada 2030 vision for broadband connectivity, including ensuring deeper coordination with provinces and territories so that broadband funding streams and deployment strategies are complementary and future-proof.
  • Establish a national target for digital affordability that reflects the diverse economic realities of communities across the country—as an essential counterpart to Canada’s existing universal service objective for fixed broadband speeds (50/10 Mbps).
  • Establish a broadband progress monitoring framework to ensure communities see results, including an obligation on the federal government to report to Parliament annually on progress achieving the universal service objective for speed, and recommended affordability target—in communities of all sizes and regions.
  • Continue enhancing federal broadband mapping data and commit to an accelerated process for correcting mapping errors, to support efficient progress toward achieving universal high-speed Internet access.

Supporting progress on the ground

  • Support broadband for hardest-to-reach areas by adding a needs-based stream to the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF)— at least $150 million more annually for the next four years—targeting small ISPs and community partners who struggle to compete with high-scoring UBF applications in easier-to-serve areas.
  • Launch a municipal digital capacity building program to develop technical expertise and support local and regional broadband infrastructure planning and deployment in underserved communities.
  • Create a one-window intake process to access all federal broadband funding streams to make the process more accessible to all applicants, building on progress made through the coordinated funding approach with the Universal Broadband Fund and Canada Infrastructure Bank.