JAR Audio believes that access to the internet is a right. But, sadly, there are too many Canadians who lack access.
So, written by JAR Audio’s Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer (Aaron Johnson), we have sent the following letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE JUSTIN TRUDEAU
House of Commons
Open Letter: Canada’s Digital Economic Future, Now.
Dear Prime Minister,
As a concerned citizen of Canada, I feel that it is my duty to speak up on behalf of my fellow Canadians, and say that it is time for Canada to take control of its future. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a wide range of shortcomings within our current systems.
Canada needs to invest in the connectivity of all Canadians for us to be competitive in the modern global economy. Connectivity will also enable better access to vital services while making them more available, transparent, and secure.
Internet connectivity should be considered a nation building program for all Canadians. This will ensure that we all have an equal and fair chance to compete in the global marketplace, which will help to ensure the future of Canada’s economic growth.
With a number of Canadian businesses making the shift to remote work due to the pandemic, many of these businesses have come to realize some significant benefits that can be attributed to a remote workforce. Because of this, many workers and families are now considering moving to more affordable areas of their Province or even more affordable parts of the country. This should lead to more balanced areas of local economic activity in communities across Canada.
However, these more remote and affordable communities do not have access to reliable high-speed internet. According to the CRTC, 59% of rural households across Canada still don’t have access to reliable high-speed (50/10 Mbps) Internet. This is a major economic disadvantage for Canadian who reside in these areas. Consistent and reliable high-speed internet connectivity could act as a significant catalyst to enable Canadians to work more seamlessly and develop the future economy.
Increased connectivity for Canadians will not only support and grow the economy of Canada but will help secure and provide more efficient communications and support from The Federal and Provincial Governments. The introduction of CERB for Canadians as a response from the global pandemic was a much-needed program for the time and I applaud the Federal Government for their quick response and roll-out of the program. However, with our current systems in place, we saw many Canadians struggling to apply for the benefits due to website crashes and jammed phone lines. There were also many reports of fraud associated with the benefit system. With increased connectivity and reliable internet access being ensured nationwide, it would be possible to guarantee a more secure and robust system to better support Canadians in the face of challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
A country that I believe has done an excellent job of this is Estonia. Since the early 2000s the country has implemented a nationwide Smart Card Digital ID system. A cryptographic national ID card is held by 98% of Estonians allowing them to access government services, sign important documents, vote and even pay taxes.
A system similar to Estonia’s would be more secure for Canadians when communicating and interacting with their government. The efficiency seen by the Estonian system is clear, transparent, and is a major factor in the country’s economic growth. Canadians would be able to apply for government support programs like CERB quickly, securely, and have significantly fewer vulnerabilities to fraud. Every aspect of government becomes more effective, efficient, and transparent. From taxes, to benefit programs and even secure voting. A system like this would also be much more difficult to breach, mediating threats like we’ve recently seen with the CRA attack.
Not only will a digital system be beneficial for Canadians, but also following the example of Estonia with their e-residency program, this will open up Canada to need and emerging digital opportunities. Attracting top talent and entrepreneurs from around the world, giving Canadians many opportunities and jobs. The digital economy is not a future idea, it is now. Canada is already behind and needs to invest in its future today in order to be competitive internationally and secure its future for all Canadians.
Chief Technical Officer
JAGMEET SINGH, MP Leader of the New Democratic Party Hon.
ERIN O’TOOLE, MP Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
YVES-FRANÇOIS BLANCHET, MP Leader of the Bloc Québécois
Hon. PABLO RODRIGUEZ, MP Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Hon. CANDICE BERGEN, MP House Leader of the Official Opposition
ALAIN THERRIEN, MP House Leader of the Bloc Québécois
PETER JULIAN, MP House Leader of the New Democratic Party
Hon. JUDY A. SGRO, MP Chair, Committee on International Trade
YASMIN RATANSI, MP Chair, Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development
SHERRY ROMANADO, MP Chair, Committee on Industry, Science and Technology
Hon. MICHELLE REMPEL GARNER, MP Vice-Chair, Committee on Industry, Science and Technology
SÉBASTIEN LEMIRE, MP Vice-Chair, Committee on Industry, Science and Technology
TOM LUKIWSKI, MP Chair, Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
FRANCIS DROUIN, MP Vice-Chair, Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
JULIE VIGNOLA, MP Vice-Chair, Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Hon. JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD, MP Vancouver Granville MARWAN TABBARA, MP Kitchener South—Hespeler