First rural strategies aim at high speed internet

There are few details yet beyond internet announcements

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The federal government has launched two strategies designed to create economic development in rural Canada.

Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development, released Rural Opportunities, National Prosperity concurrently with High-Speed Access for All: Canada’s Connectivity Strategy.

She said consultations pointed to high-speed broadband as the most immediate need in rural areas.

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Why it matters: About 20 per cent of Canadians live and work in rural communities and high speed Internet access has been identified as a key obstacle to rural business competitiveness.

Jordan said the common themes identified by people she met with included the desire to maintain strong local economies, the need to attract workers and the need for new or improved infrastructure.

“Time and again, rural Canadians have identified unreliable and slow Internet connectivity as their number one challenge,” says the rural opportunities strategy.

The connectivity strategy says the government will, as announced in the 2019 budget, spend $1.7 billion over 13 years to connect rural and remote areas.

It will also launch a broadband portal so municipalities can see what funding they can access, improve mapping so rural municipalities can see where gaps exist and better fill them, make additional wireless spectrum available and develop smaller licensing tiers for the wireless spectrum so rural communities can be separate from major cities.

Jordan noted there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

“It is not a top-down solution, but a roadmap for growth based on rural input, which complements our government’s ongoing support for growing the middle class, advancing reconciliation with Indigenous people and supporting diversity across the country,” she said in a statement presenting the rural strategy.

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