Northern Connections: Broadband and Canada's Digital Divide

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When: Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 08:30 - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 17:30

Where: Whitehorse/ Iqaluit/ Ottawa

Broadband connectivity is today one of the greatest enablers for economic diversification, growth and service delivery, with enormous potential in sectors such as e-commerce, tele-health and distance education. However, while connectivity in many large Canadian cities is at an all-time high, Canadians in economically disadvantaged or geographically remote areas are too often being left behind. This is especially true in the North, where solutions to help address isolation and socio-economic issues rely on robust high-speed internet, which is lacking in much of the region. 

Recent Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) deliberations, including public consultations in June 2013, have focused national attention on northern telecommunications infrastructure, access and cost. Meanwhile, the explosive growth of resource exploration and operations in the North, and their importance to regional economic development, is creating the prospect of better alignment between private sector goals, government priorities and community connectivity needs. Several recent studies have looked at the impact of poor or unequal broadband access on Canada’s North. However, more work needs to be done to bring stakeholders to the table with governments at all levels to advance concrete actions and multi-sector, collaborative solutions that will benefit the entire region.

To initiate a process of reflection and dialogue, the Public Policy Forum is convening a series of roundtable discussions in the North to help identify potential solutions for improving connectivity across Canada’s three Northern territories. Roundtables will be held in Whitehorse and Iqaluit, followed by an executive briefing in Ottawa with participants from the roundtables and project partners. The focus will be on identifying best practices, policy solutions, and actions that may help expand connectivity in the North. The project will seek common ground and identify areas for collaboration.

The Forum will share summary reports from each roundtable, and will publish a final report at the project's conclusion.

For more information, please contact:

Amanda Pickrell
Project Lead, Public Policy Forum
amanda.pickrell@ppforum.ca
(613) 238-2858 x.225

 

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