Public education for all can’t work if we don’t have internet for all.
As Peter Lougheed said, “We must think like owners”.
Access to the internet is now a necessity. The high cost of service affects participation in school, opportunities in the job market, health care, and many other aspects of daily life for our students, staff, and families.
Municipal broadband is about treating the internet like a public utility, like our roads, street lights, or water service rather than a for-profit private company. It's about breaking the duopoly of big providers and bringing competition back to the marketplace and making sure vulnerable people can still have access. (Backgrounder and my motion here)
Join me in asking school boards and municipalities to take action.
The pandemic has highlighted how vital internet connectivity is. It was inspiring to see Toronto City Council take action in ensuring equitable access to the internet by investing in municipal broadband (ConnectTO). (Read the recommendation here) They will fill in fibre connectivity gaps and provide more affordable options for low-income families who cannot currently afford internet that meets their needs.
Public interest, not excessive private profit.
Many of these telecoms are incredibly profitable. Bell Media took $122 million in payouts from the COVID wage subsidy (CEWS) despite laying off workers and still turning a profit. Rogers, Bell, and Telus collected more than $240 million from Canada’s wage-subsidy program, and Bell and Telus raised shareholder payouts. Telus' yearly net income regularly exceeds $1 Billion.
We can do much better.
Listen to my interview on 630 CHED about this idea:
I support the Edmonton Public School Board advocating for the establishment of municipal broadband modeled on the example of Connect Toronto and other publicly-owned telecommunications initiatives across North America.
Until those measures are established, I support advocating to the federal and provincial governments for immediate initiatives to increase accessibility, quality and reduce the cost of internet for students, staff, and families.