OTTAWA — Canada’s auditor general says the government hasn’t established a clear national strategy that sets out the costs and timelines for bringing broadband access in rural and remote areas up to the national minimum standard.
The auditor general’s fall report says officials in the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development estimated it might cost $6.5 billion to provide all parts of Canada with at least the minimum standard.
The report says, among other things, that the lack of a national strategy had hampered the implementation of the Liberal government’s Connect to Innovate program, which allocated $500 million over five years starting in 2016.
It says ISED has been slow to inform stakeholders about when backbone network infrastructure funded by the program will be available to them and what they would be charged for access.
It adds that only three contracts had been signed under the program as of June 2018, due to delays in the department’s process for completing due diligence on project applications.
In its response, ISED said it agreed with the report and began a consultation in June to establish a national digital and data strategy that includes broadband connectivity.
The Canadian Press