OTTAWA, December 16, 2016 — The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) welcomes news announced by the federal government yesterday that it will invest in better broadband access for rural and remote communities through the Connect to Innovate program. The government will invest $500 million by 2021 in the program, and its focus on improving backbone infrastructure will enhance connectivity in communities that are home to farms and other agricultural businesses.
“Farm leaders are pleased that Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains has recognized that rural Canadians need access to high-speed internet to fully participate in our economy, democracy and way of life. While we look forward to better understanding the details, we are encouraged to see that last-mile connectivity has been referenced in the new measures,” said CFA President Ron Bonnett.
Many communities across Canada that are deemed rural – typically defined as under 30,000 in population – can obtain high-speed internet in their local population centre. However, access remains inadequate for many households and businesses located outside of that centre.
As with other industries, competitiveness in agriculture is increasingly reliant on data-driven, advanced technology. Without the infrastructure to meet the specifications of this technology, Canadian farms and rural communities will continue to miss out on related opportunities. CFA and its members have consistently advocated for such infrastructure in recent years.
“We strongly encourage the federal government to note that last-mile connectivity is vital as applications for funding are examined. If backbone infrastructure investments are leveraged through partnerships with service providers, we can expect significant gains in last-mile connectivity.”
CFA looks forward to an ongoing dialogue on this front, as accessibility and affordability remain key concerns for many farm families. We will continue to work with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and other government departments to see this basic service extended to all rural residents.
Phone: 613-236-3633 ext. 2322