Rabble: Fact-checking the Conservatives’ rural broadband strategy
The government's rural broadband strategy falls way short of our digital platform and here's why. We need to fight back by pledging to vote now at OurDigitalFuture.ca Article by Nora Loreto for Rabble.ca The 2015 federal election promises to be an ugly fight, with a lot of half-truths and fact twisting. This has been the tone set by the Harper government so far, and it shows no sign of changing course. Luckily, rabble.ca together with our allies will be pulling together real numbers and evidence to refute the mistruths and fact check the election campaign.
Stephen Harper has promised $200 million to improve broadband access to rural Canada, where 15 per cent of people still can't access it. Just 62 per cent of Canadians in the lowest income quartile have access to broadband. Northern communities are even less connected. In Nunavut, only 27 per cent of communities have access.
The Conservative plan would start in 2017 and would disburse $28.5 million annually, for seven years thereafter. In 2014, $305 million was promised to bring broadband access to 280,000 homes by 2017 (increased to 350,000 homes due to the program's success). Harper made the announcement in Lancaster, Ontario.
Harper has promised to expand broadband many times. In 2008, expanded broadbandwas part of the overall development strategy for Northern Canada, announced alongside strengthening Canada's national defenses in the North and creating the conditions to improve the capacity for resource extraction.
In March 2009, Harper announced that they would pay private companies half of the cost of connecting remote regions to broadband access. In the 2009 budget the Conservatives promised to pay $225 million over three years to develop a strategy to expand broadband access, resulting in the Digital Canada 150 document.