Remarks announcing Canada-Quebec Operation High Speed
I’m very pleased to be in Trois-Rivières today.
I just spoke to Mayor Jean Lamarche this morning. We discussed various local projects and had a very good conversation.
I know that hundreds of Trois-Rivières residents are currently getting their vaccines.
Mass vaccination centres have also opened up in the region, including in Victoriaville, Drummondville and Shawinigan.
Over 11% of the population of Quebec has received a first dose, and the number of vaccines that have been administered is approaching one million. Vaccination is moving along very well here and this is really great news.
Across the country, we’ve delivered more than 4.7 million doses so far.
Every day, more Canadians are protected.
This is the way we all wanted to start the spring – with families from coast to coast to coast breathing a sigh of relief.
Of course, while we do everything we can to get Canadians vaccinated as quickly as possible, we’ll also continue to be there for workers and for small businesses.
On that note, today we’re extending the deadline for new Canada Emergency Business Account applications from the end of March to the end of June.
As I’ve said before, we’ll do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to help Canadians get through this crisis.
For years, and more and more since the pandemic, there have been many people, including a number of MPs in our caucus, who have spoken to me about the importance of high-speed Internet in the regions of Quebec and across Canada.
More than ever, high-speed Internet access is a necessity, the same as a road or electricity.
It’s a tool for working, finding a job, or running a small business. It’s also a tool for staying informed and receiving medical consultations.
Over the past year, we’ve heard of situations where brothers and sisters living under the same roof weren’t able to be online at the same time to attend their classes because the connection was too weak.
Or people who had to set up shop on a corner of their balcony or in their garage because that was the only place they had some service.
Right now, there are still too many Canadians in the regions who do not have access to broadband Internet.
Today, we want to speed up the connection in rural and remote areas.
That’s why we’re creating Canada-Quebec Operation High-Speed, which is an equal investment of over $826 million, shared 50-50, by the governments of Canada and Quebec.
An Internet connection isn’t a luxury: It’s a necessity.
That’s why, last November, we announced a $1.75 billion investment for the Universal Broadband Fund.
We’re also investing $600 million for satellite capacity to connect even the most remote communities.
With programs like these, we’ll connect 98% of all Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026 and all Canadians before 2030.
That means more small businesses that can reach customers online, more young people who can get schoolwork done from home, and more grandparents who can FaceTime their grandkids.
We’re not stopping until we’ve closed this digital gap.
All Canadians, including and especially in rural, remote, and northern communities, will have the Internet they need to succeed.
I want to recognize the ambition and initiative of the Government of Quebec on this issue, as well as the collaboration of the private sector through Internet service providers.
This is a historic agreement between our two governments.
By working together, we’re improving the lives of Quebeckers and Canadians– and this is always our priority.
With today’s announcement, by September 2022, that’s nearly 150,000 more households in Quebec that will have access to high-speed Internet.
Earlier this morning, I spoke with Bernard Thompson and Gérard Bruneau, prefects of the Mékinac and Les Chenaux RCMs.
I can tell you we had an excellent conversation, but they really stressed to me how much of a necessity it is to be able to connect, in order to attract people to the regions, keep our young people in the regions, grow the local economy. It’s always one of the first questions people ask when they’re thinking about buying or moving to the regions: “Do you have high-speed Internet?”, and Bernard and Gérard will be able to say yes because we are working together.
Universal Internet connectivity will play a key role in our economic recovery after the pandemic.
It’s important for the benefit of families, workers and small businesses, including here in Mauricie.
It’s through projects like this one that we will continue to build an even stronger, fairer Quebec and Canada for everyone.
Before I conclude, I’d like to take a moment to talk about Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
Last night, Michael Kovrig’s trial was held.
I’d like to thank the representatives from 22 countries, as well as the European Union, who were there to show the solidarity of free democracies around the world with Canada and these two Canadians.
Together, we continue to call for their release. Their arbitrary detention is unacceptable.
And we will not give up until they are both back here at home.
Our hearts continue to go out to them and their loved ones.
On a separate matter relating to China – today, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States imposed sanctions in response to the repression of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
These measures reflect our grave concern with the gross and systematic human rights abuses taking place in the region.
We will continue to work closely with our international partners to pursue accountability and transparency.