SOUTHERN LABRADOR, NL – Labrador MP Yvonne Jones hopes to announce improved internet access for southern communities in the district before the end of the year.
The application currently being assessed involves upgrading fibre-optic lines and ensuring high-speed internet to the communities of Lodge Bay, Mary’s Harbour, St. Lewis, Port Hope Simpson and Charlottetown.
TBell Aliant and Nunacor, the business arm of the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC), have partnered on the application and would jointly invest up to $4 million if the project went ahead.
“Right now it is a number one priority for us to get funding,” said Jones. “My expectation is that we’ll be in a position to announce funding for this before Christmas.”
The announcement is much needed for many communities. Port Hope Simpson has long suffered due to poor internet access that makes daily tasks like checking emails or doing schoolwork a strenuous struggle.
“We’re suffering because we can’t get anything done,” said Port Hope Simpson Mayor Margaret Burden in a previous Northern Pen interview.
“With online courses students sometimes can’t get online all together and miss assignments.
“Everyone here is just fed up a million times over.”
Jones agrees that improved internet services in these areas are utterly essential.
“You can’t do anything nowadays without internet access,” she said. “From business, to the classroom, to home – learning and accessing information is crucial to everyday life.
“One of the best tools we have today is the internet, and no one in my riding should be left behind.”
Under the Connecting Canadians Program, the federal government has committed $500 million to bring better internet services across the country. Announcements have already been made for communities in Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut.
In the Atlantic region alone, 38 proposals have been submitted – nine of them from Labrador.
The applications extend across Labrador for a variety of phases in internet provision. Along with the application for southern Labrador, Jones said more announcements from other applications will hopefully be made official early in the new year.
“I don’t want any communities left behind,” Jones said. “This is the 21st century and this is long overdue.”
The southern Labrador proposal calls for $12 million in funding, with $4 million from Bell Aliant and Nunacor, and $8 million from the federal government.
Jones said the federal government is putting a lot of effort into ensuring northern and isolated areas of the country get high-speed internet access.
Her ultimate goal is to have every home in Labrador with full internet service.
“From business account systems, buying and selling over the internet, to working for major companies from their own homes, I want to make sure those opportunities are there for people in my riding so that they can taking advantage of them,” she said.