Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening to speak at second reading of Bill C‑288, and I will take this opportunity to make references to what I experience in Laurentides—Labelle.
This bill will, I am sure, have an impact on Quebeckers, including people in my riding, Laurentides—Labelle. The riding that I have the honour to represent is vast and rural. Anyone who knows our region knows that accessing high-quality, reliable and stable Internet service is a challenge that affects a good number of my constituents.
The Bloc Québécois's work on the issue of Internet service is based on three levels of intervention. The first is providing access to as many people as possible. We are almost there. There have been a lot of initiatives in our ridings, and I commend some of the small municipalities, such as Labelle, where my sister lives, which has had broadband for several years now. The second level is ensuring high-quality service throughout our territory. Access is one thing, but there is also quality. The third level is to encourage competition among the various Internet service providers.
In recent years, I have worked to substantially increase and improve Internet availability in my riding, enhancing speed and expanding coverage. In this day and age, we all agree that the Internet should be available everywhere. I am very proud to say that, in my riding, our elected representatives, our 43 mayors, took action and signed a letter calling out the lack of access. That sped up the process. We have seen numerous undertakings, including a new telecommunications co-operative that made it possible for my own home to connect to broadband a few months ago. I am very proud of that.
As I said, the Internet is an essential service, now more than ever. Unfortunately, there are still lots of places that lack quality service. I find that hard to believe. Anyone who travels abroad and compares our service quality and access to what is available elsewhere knows that we have a long way to go.
It is a question of security, development, economic vitality, geographic equality, social cohesion, quality of life and I could go on. Now is the time to expand access, and Bill C‑288 allows us to do just that.
Unfortunately, as we see day in and day out, inflation is dragging on. That is why it is so important to facilitate competition in the very closed and monopolized world of Internet service providers. It is a matter of offering a breath of fresh air to Quebec families, who greatly need it. As legislators, we need to ensure that the information on connection speeds is exactly what is advertised by the large media conglomerates, that is, our Internet providers. If consumers are told that they will get a certain speed to ensure capacity, that information must be consistent and transparent. Consumers should not be fooled by claims of maximum download speeds that are ultimately very theoretical. It fails to tell the whole story about the service that people are paying for.
Workers have been teleworking on a permanent basis for several months now throughout Quebec, including Laurentides—Labelle.
The pandemic has not been easy for employers, who had to implement teleworking for their employees as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, employers are now demanding quality from their teleworking employees, and this is non-negotiable. This means that download speeds need to be optimal.
I want to talk about Simon, a constituent of mine. He made arrangements to work from home during the pandemic. He did what many people did and managed to create an extraordinary quality of life. These days, in 2022, he should be able to work from home. Internet providers told him that he had everything he needed to do his job in the video game industry, so he settled in during the pandemic, only to find out shortly afterwards that the megabits that he was expecting from the Internet providers did not pan out, and this had a negative impact on his work.
I experienced that too during the pandemic. We know it when it happens to us: When everyone wants to use the service at the same time, we have to choose who gets the connection, even at home. That is behind us now, because we are back in the House.
How can we trust what we are being sold when there is still talk of theoretical speed, but not the real speed, meaning the 80% of speed we actually get when browsing online? This can have a direct impact on employment and quality of life, which goes back to what I was saying about Simon.
Let us get back to the content of the bill. Thanks to the establishment of a comparable, standardized format, these guidelines would help see the real speed but would also allow the providers to adjust. This is a prime example of needing to walk the talk.
In their advertising, Internet service providers claim that they are the best, the fastest and the top-performing. That may be, but when I use the Internet, the upload and download speeds may not be exactly as advertised. It is very important that there be transparency in that regard.
Increased competition among the big players would directly and inevitably reduce prices. I am not making this up. None other than Joseph Stiglitz, a U.S. economist who received a Nobel Prize in economics, stated in 2011 that a competitive telecommunications sector opens up a whole world of possibilities.
Competition can reduce prices, increasing access to the Internet for the least well-off. Many of us are also victims. Do my colleagues agree with me that lower prices would be most welcome for a good number of Quebeckers and for every person living in Canada? We must work together to ensure that there is real competition. We see it in other countries, and we must take action so that consumers have a range of providers to choose from.
As consumers, how can we really believe these businesses? Requiring them to be transparent will increase competition. I hope that we will have a consensus so that we can do more to address quality and access across the country.