Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.
Today I have the pleasure of rising to highlight the excellent work our government has accomplished, no matter what the opposition may say, over the past four years to support Canada's telecommunications sector and Canadians, who work hard and rely on these Internet and mobile services every day. Telecommunications services are essential to all Canadians, regardless of where they are. That is why the government's telecommunications policy focuses on three objectives, namely quality, coverage and affordability.
Canadians need access to high-quality telecommunications services where they live and work in order to participate and thrive in the digital society and economy. Canada is already among the world's leaders when it comes to fast wireless networks. However, we understand that more can be done in terms of coverage to ensure that everyone can benefit.
Cell coverage is essential, and Canadians find service issues frustrating. The government has taken steps to expand wireless and broadband access in rural areas. I am from Gaspé, where 40 towns in the riding of Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia will have access to high-speed Internet as of next year thanks to a $45-million investment. The people who live in those 40 towns, including Grosses-Roches, Matapédia, Carleton-sur-Mer and Sainte-Félicité, and all across my riding will have fibre optic service with download speeds of up to 100 megabytes. That is the kind of service we hope to offer. As of next year, 98% of the households in my riding will be connected. We have a plan, and that plan is working extremely well.
Obligations related to service delivery in rural areas like the ones I mentioned earlier must be integrated into spectrum licences to ensure that Canadians across the country have access to state-of-the-art wireless services.
This is not just it. Our government is also looking to the future. By 2023, experts expect as much as 10 connected devices for every person on earth. This is just the beginning. Wireless airwaves, known as spectrum, are essential to supporting increasing demand for data.
Our government is responding, especially by releasing new types of spectrum, as announced by my colleague the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development last week at the telecom summit. The goal is to ensure that the right spectrum is ready at the right time.
Releasing spectrum is part of the government's broader rural strategy, which also includes the connect to innovate program. The program will invest up to $500 million between now and 2021 to improve access to high-speed Internet in more than 900 rural and remote communities.
Also, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, recently announced the details of its $750-million broadband fund. The CRTC's goal for the fund is to ensure that wireless coverage includes as many major roads as possible. Wireless projects will be chosen on the basis of geographic coverage and kilometres of road covered.
Supporting new technologies also requires private investment in network infrastructure. In 2016, Canadian telecommunications companies invested more than $11 billion in their networks. Wireless 4G networks, also known as LTE, are now available to 99% of Canadians.
The government understands the need for reliable and affordable high-speed Internet and mobile coverage. We also believe that Canadians in all regions should have affordable access to these services.
Our government is working hard to ensure that all Canadians can benefit from quality telecommunications services at the best possible price. The 2018 annual report shows that competition is starting to have a downward impact on the price of wireless and Internet services.
Competition has driven the price on mobile wireless service markets down by 16% since last year. It is no secret that despite the progress that has been made, prices remain high compared to other countries.
Our government also supports a competitive marketplace where consumers are treated fairly. This is why we put forward a policy direction that would require the CRTC to consider competition, affordability, consumer interests and innovation in all its communication decisions. We are giving clear direction to the CRTC, but Canadian consumers must be at the forefront of all future decisions. In doing so, we are ensuring that the communications policy will be made through a consumer-first lens to ensure Canadians have access to quality service at more affordable prices.
As I was saying, we have already accomplished a lot for Canadian telecommunications consumers. Prices are going down as coverage and speeds increase, which is excellent news.
We know that we need to do more to keep up with the rapid pace of change. However, only one party has demonstrated clear determination to take concrete action and that is our government. We are working for all Canadians.
At the beginning of my speech, I gave some tangible examples. Starting in 2017, we announced measures in the regions. If there is one region that is undoubtedly rural, it is the Gaspé Peninsula. In my riding, there are four RCMs and 58 towns and villages. As I was saying, 98% of homes will be connected to fibre optic broadband by next year. We started with the Avignon RCM, then we moved on to La Matapédia. Now it is La Mitis' turn and next it will be La Matanie's. Every village will be connected to high-speed Internet.
Those are concrete measures that our plan has delivered. We will continue our efforts with the investments we announced in budget 2019, for example. Money has been allocated for infrastructure. In terms of affordability, for example, money will be allocated to provide Internet services at $10 a month to families receiving the Canada child benefit. Our government is implementing concrete measures to ensure that all families will have access to quality services. That is important.
No region anywhere in Canada should be left behind. Canada is a large country. There are businesses and families in every part of it and all Canadians must be connected to quality services to ensure their full development and allow them to reach their full potential. Once again, our government has implemented a set of measures in pursuit of its specific commitment to ensure that these services are indeed made available.
I would like to close by saying that I am very proud of the work our government has done. We will continue our efforts because there is still more to be done. In fact, the policy recently put in place by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development seeks to ensure that the customer receiving the service is at the centre of the CRTC's decisions in order to guarantee adequate and timely coverage at a good price.