UCP BREAK PROMISE, FAIL TO DELIVER ON BROADBAND INTERNET
SHERWOOD PARK – The UCP has broken their promise to have shovels in the ground on broadband internet projects this spring and risk missing the construction season altogether due to delays.
In July of last year, the UCP government announced funding for broadband projects. At the time, they said “details on how this new funding will roll out will be announced in the coming weeks.”
In December, they made another funding announcement with the federal government and promised, “Albertans can look forward to having shovels in the ground in the 2022 construction season.”
In another funding announcement in March, Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish claimed that, “With this funding agreement in place, we can focus on reviewing funding applications and getting shovels in the ground this spring so we can bring immediate relief to Albertans all across the province.”
However, the UCP has missed that deadline and failed to provide any details on how funding will be distributed. As a result, they are now in danger of missing the entire construction season as fall approaches.
“Access to high-speed, affordable internet is essential for diversifying our economy and creating jobs, but the digital divide is growing under the UCP and hundreds of thousands of Albertans are at risk of being left behind,” said NDP candidate for Strathcona-Sherwood Park Bill Tonita.
“The latest delay is yet another broken promise by the UCP and means they will likely fail to deliver on broadband during their term in office.”
In June, Glubish said delivering broadband access was his top priority, but he was still working on the applications and the details regarding how funding would be distributed. Meanwhile, Glubish has inserted himself into the UCP leadership race by switching his endorsement from Travis Toews to Danielle Smith.
“Minister Glubish claims broadband is a priority, but he’s more preoccupied with the leadership contest and securing a cabinet position than helping Albertans,” said Tonita.
“As a Cattle Farmer, I know the importance of being able to connect with the outside world directly at our farm,” said NDP candidate for Morinville-St. Albert Karen Shaw. “It’s 2022, rural communities in Alberta should be connected, should have access to internet, and there is no excuse for this delay.”
“If the minister is looking for ideas on how to deliver broadband, he could always consult our plan,” said NDP Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Critic Heather Sweet.
In November last year, the NDP released “Bridging the Digital Divide,” a detailed proposal following more than a year of extensive consultation with internet service providers, municipalities, and all Albertans.
The proposal includes a competitive funding model and holding a series of open and competitive reverse auctions to find bids to provide the highest speeds at the lowest price. Bids may be made by ISPs, utility companies, gas co-ops, and municipalities.
“An NDP government will deliver broadband coverage to every corner of the province within our first mandate,” said Sweet. “By doing so, we can build a modern, diversified economy and create good jobs for Albertans.”
“The UCP needs to stop these delays and get shovels in the ground on these projects immediately.”