The MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka is fighting for better internet access across rural communities.

In a press release last week, MP Scott Aitchison said he is encouraging residents to take part in the Conservative caucus consultation process to better connect rural Canadians by 2021.

Speaking to MyMuskokaNow, Aitchison feels the lack of proper access creates a significant disadvantage to people living in rural settings.

“Students are trying to do online learning, and parents are trying to work from home online as well, and they just don’t have the internet capacity in a lot of cases. Even if they do have internet access, they don’t have the bandwidth to do that.”

The Conservative Party’s ‘Connect Canada’ is a plan which outlines a call to action for better internet access.

The plan highlights internet access as an essential service, features information regarding policy failures that have resulted in inadequate access and consists of recommendations to address the issue.

Aitchison notes COVID-19 has underscored the already significant inequalities between rural and urban areas in terms of access to fast and reliable internet.

“We continue to lag behind, and of course, the other issue is the skyrocketing costs of these services in rural areas to. So, we need a more comprehensive approach to this to really get it done and get it done as quickly as possible.

Aitchison feels the urban/rural divide will only grow larger with the installation of even faster 5G networks in urban settings, while many rural Canadians do not meet the CRTC speed benchmark of 50 megabytes per second (MBPS) download speed and a 10 MBPS upload speed.

Some of the recommendations in the plan include more competition among Canada’s telecommunications industry.

This is evidenced by the fact investments in rural broadband by successive governments and incumbent providers over nearly two decades have not solved the problem.

Aitchison says while investment is needed, there first needs to be a change in the system and the regulatory environment.

“Throwing money at the problem doesn’t seem to be enough. We need a more comprehensive strategy to actually target areas and make sure that money being spent by government isn’t just getting gobbled up by the big players who then take it to make investments to grab the low hanging fruit.”

Aitchison says this plan needs to connect all Canadians by 2021, at the speed benchmark that has been set by CRTC.

To view the consultation plan, head here.