Feds announce plans for rural development

The federal government has launched two strategies designed to create economic development in rural Canada.

Minister Bernadette Jordan released Rural Opportunities, National Prosperity concurrently with High-Speed Access for All: Canada’s Connectivity Strategy.

She said consultation over the past several months pointed to high-speed broadband as the most immediate need in rural areas.

Twenty percent of Canadians live and work in rural communities.

Jordan said the common themes identified by people she met with included the desire to maintain strong local economies, the need to attract workers and the need for new or improved infrastructure.

“Time and again, rural Canadians have identified unreliable and slow Internet connectivity as their number one challenge,” says the rural opportunities strategy.

The connectivity strategy says the government will, as announced in the 2019 budget, spend $1.7 billion over 13 years to connect rural and remote areas.

It will also launch a broadband portal so that municipalities can see what funding they can access, improve mapping so rural municipalities can see where gaps exist and better fill them, make additional wireless spectrum available and develop smaller licensing tiers for wireless spectrum so rural communities can be separate from major cities.

Jordan noted there is no one-size-fits-all solution for rural economic development because of diverse geography and climate.

“It is not a top-down solution, but a roadmap for growth based on rural input, which complements our government’s ongoing support for growing the middle class, advancing reconciliation with Indigenous people and supporting diversity across the country,” she said in a statement presenting the rural strategy.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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