Quebec is announcing major investments aimed, among other things, at fulfilling the endless promise to provide high-speed Internet access throughout Quebec.
The President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, tabled on Tuesday, in the National Assembly, additional appropriations totaling $ 1.9 billion, a significant portion of which will be devoted to this project.
In the press release released by the Treasury Board secretariat, the promise to extend the high-speed Internet network is the only one that comes with an amount, in this case $ 660 million. We indicate that we want to extend access “to all households in Quebec, by the fall of 2022”, while recognizing that “past programs have not made it possible to achieve a number of sufficient connections so far ”.
Quebec notes that the pandemic and, above all, the confinement have demonstrated to what extent reliable access to cyberspace has become crucial, whether for teleworking, distance education or to break the isolation of citizens by allowing them to communicate with their loved ones. The details of this investment will be announced “in a few weeks”, it is said.
In addition, the remainder of the $ 1.9 billion will increase program spending, particularly in the form of financial assistance for: schools and vocational training and adult education centers; support aboriginal police forces; and compensate for the consequences of the pandemic on organizations in the tourist industry.
The secretariat of the Treasury Board specifies that the financing of these additional credits comes from “the provision for economic risks and other support and recovery measures”, which were in the economic update of the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, in last november.
The Quebec Federation of Municipalities (FQM), which represents the MRCs and municipalities in the regions, immediately reacted to this announcement, stressing that it has been asking for years that high-speed internet access be extended in the regions.
According to the FQM, this is clearly an essential service. Its president, the mayor of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley, Jacques Demers, underlines that he met Minister Girard in February to inform him of the pressing need to give access to the citizens of the regions. He said he was waiting “impatiently for the details of these investments, which bode well for good news”, while promising to remain vigilant and to closely follow the evolution of the file.