BROADBAND DELAYS IN NORTH SHOW NEED TO FIX FEDNOR: Angus Says New Government Needs to Show Commitmen
Applications to improve broadband infrastructure in the North have been put on hold by the new Liberal government as the government studies the future of the program. Charlie Angus says this is a worrisome sign as the need for expanding broadband is essential for economic diversification in the north. This is the continuation of a long pattern of cuts and stalled spending. Since 2005-06 FedNor's annual budget has been cut by more than $31 million and on top of these cuts in 2013-2014 alone it failed to spend 8.5 million dollars that had been earmarked for economic projects in the region. Angus has written to new Science and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains asking for a commitment to restore FedNor’s budget.
"We need to stop the cuts and stalled projects that have become commonplace in FedNor. It is critical to the long-term sustainability of our regional economy that you take action to fix the neglect of the previous government. I am asking you to work with us to reverse the cuts and to finally establish FedNor as a standalone economic development agency to ensure greater independence, transparency and accountability," Angus is concerned that the Trudeau government has not appointed a separate FedNor Minister. FedNor plays a crucial role to diversify North Ontario's economy and invest in infrastructure, yet it is buried within the much larger Science and Innovation ministry.
“I am concerned that the government has opted not to have a strong voice for northern issues at the cabinet table. I respect the work of the new Minister but when I see that broadband programs for the north have been put on hold, it tells me that this is government is not listening to the issues that are relevant to our region.”