Last week, Arnold Viersen, Member of Parliament for Peace River-Westlock, joined his Conservative colleagues to seek feedback on the issue of rural internet access.
“I hear regularly from residents who know all too well the challenges to access suitable internet in rural communities,” Viersen said in a May 11 news release. “It is an issue that has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, as more and more kids are completing schoolwork online and adults are working remotely.”
Five years ago, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) designated broadband internet an essential service. Despite this, Viersen says, too many Canadians in rural and remote regions still to not have consistent internet access.
Viersen predicts the urban/rural divide on this issue is going to grow even wider. Urban networks continue to improve, whereas “many rural communities still do not even meet the CRTC speed benchmark of 50 megabytes per second (MBPS) download and 10 MBPS upload speed.”
Viersen says his party is calling on the federal government “to outline a concrete plan to strengthen rural internet access, a plan that must connect all Canadians by 2021 at the speed benchmark that has been set by the CRTC.”
To help the cause, Viersen is urging residents and businesses in the riding to get in touch with his office and let him know about internet service challenges; also any ideas for improvements.
“I know there are some innovative and common-sense ideas that will come from our community,” he says. “And I am looking forward to putting these ideas before the government in the future.”