Madam Speaker, in our region, high-speed Internet access is indispensable, especially for families, students, SMEs, self-employed workers and of course agricultural businesses.
More than 350,000 households in Quebec still do not have not have an affordable and reliable Internet connection. There is a desperate need now, but the Liberals are telling us today that we will have to wait until 2030.
Much like the Conservatives before them, the Liberals are turning their backs on our rural regions. Budget 2019 would have been a great opportunity to invest in this infrastructure to give everyone access and to help our region develop faster. Instead, we have to wait more than 10 years.
Since I was elected in 2015, I keep repeating over and over that this government is not doing enough to ensure everyone has Internet access, but now, with the election just six months away, the government is saying it is going to invest. Be careful, though, for the devil is in the details. Canadians and Quebeckers will not all have access for another 10 years.
The people of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale cannot wait 10 years. In my region, 16 of the 25 municipalities have connectivity problems and need Internet. We are talking about a riding that is less than an hour from Montreal. It is truly appalling.
Instead of giving millions of dollars to multi-billionnaires, the government should invest that money now so that our young people can pursue their studies close to home, so that our small businesses can innovate, so that our farmers can prosper, so that our regions can achieve their economic development potential and so that our seniors can access health and social services online if they want to.
Saint-Hyacinthe is an agrifood technopole. Our farmers and producers want to be on the cutting edge of technology, but the government has to give them the tools to achieve that.
Many farms in our riding still do not have a reliable connection. That is a drawback for farmers who want to innovate and improve their efficiency and productivity. Many of our farms and rural areas do not have cable or fibre optic access.
Wireless Internet access is the only solution, but the available networks are often way too slow to be functional. That has a direct impact on farmers, who need Internet access on their farm, in the barn, in the stable, in the fields and in the house to manage their books. To be productive, they need access to fast, reliable Internet.
Connectivity to high-speed Internet is necessary for accessing the latest health care technologies, providing modern education for our young people and students, and helping businesses innovate and grow.
In 2019, reliable access to the Internet is not a luxury. It is an essential service. Only 37% of households have access to high-speed Internet in rural, remote or sparsely populated areas. That means that six out of 10 people living in a rural area do not have access to reliable Internet service.
Why? Because the Liberals, like the Conservatives before them, are not doing enough.
In rural areas, Internet access, if it is available, costs about $100 a month, and sometimes even twice that, for service that often falls short on capacity and quality. Telling people six months before an election that they will have reliable Internet access in 10 years is not going help our SMEs prosper, keep our young people in the regions, help our farmers succeed, support self-employed people, equip our families, and the list goes on.
Why are the Liberals waiting another 10 years to do something about this?