As my colleague from Avalon reminded me, the New Democrats voted against that.
When we look at connecting for families, the government announced that initiative in 2017 as part of innovations and skills. That helped bridge the digital divide for Canadian families that might have struggled to afford access to home Internet. Again, 14 Internet providers are voluntarily participating in the initiative by offering Internet service for $10 per month to eligible families that currently receive the maximum Canada child benefit. The program is being rolled out and close to 20,000 families are benefiting from the $10 a month Internet service. I believe well over 20,000 computers were ordered through the computers for school program.
I made reference at the beginning of my speech to MTS and when it was privatized in the province of Manitoba. One of the initiatives that this government authorized Innovation, Science and Economic Development in May 2016, through a GIC, denied Bell's petition to overturn the CRTC's decision to extend wholesale regulation to fibre home Internet services. This decision supported increased retail competition for higher speed Internet services. Average broadband and Internet prices offered by smaller service providers relying on wholesale regulations are up to 35% lower than those of the larger companies.
I think of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development fund. This affects the province of Manitoba, where the ISCD approved the transfer of the MTS spectrum licences to Bell and Xplornet Communications Inc. As part of the deal, Bell committed to spending $1 billion over the next five years to expand wire and wireless broadband networks to Manitoba. The deal also allowed Xplornet to expand into the mobile wireless market for the very first time.
That is a significant commitment. That commitment will see many communities having enhanced service for Internet. That is an initiative by working with MTS and Bell Canada, along with listening to other stakeholders. Manitobans will be better as a direct result of that.
Whether it is for the Province of Manitoba or that initial $500 million allocated to ensure rural communities would get enhanced services over the coming years, this government is clearly demonstrating tangible actions.
I have been listening to the debate on spectrum and the revenues generated. My Conservative friend is somewhat right. When we talk about the revenue that has been generated through spectrum because of the demand for it, it makes sense to auction it. That is how people get their best price, unless of course one's intention is to nationalize. If that is what the intention of the New Democratic Party is then it should be honest with Canadians and make that statement. If it wants to forgo the billions of dollars in revenue and nationalize, then it should say that.
The revenues that were generated and came into Ottawa, no doubt have been spent on a wide variety of things like health care or other types of social services. It would be incredible to try to track every dollar. I suspect most of it, although I do not know it for a fact, came in the form of general revenue. We have general revenue come in and government money goes out.
When I think of that spectrum auction and the money coming in, that is where I agree with my New Democratic friends. The Stephen Harper Conservative Party did not serve Canadians well by not supporting Canada's infrastructure. Had it supported Canada's infrastructure in the same manner that we have as a government, we would have a much healthier competitive climate for our providers today. It would have had more rural Canadians or rural communities engaged. I agree that the Conservatives were bad on that. Through our budgetary measures, we have taken a number of initiatives to ensure our rural communities are more connected through Internet services than ever before.