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M-208 garners unanimous support - Time is crucial, says MP Will Amos

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Added: Wed, 05/22/2019 - 10:45pm
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Allyson Beauregard

PONTIAC – In a unanimous vote on May 8, the House of Commons supported Pontiac MP Will Amos’ private members motion M-208, which calls for expanded digital (cell and internet) infrastructure in rural areas for economic and public safety reasons.
“Today, 276 MPs from all political parties sent a clear message that the
public safety of citizens and the need to ensure the vitality of rural Canada are non-partisan issues that require strong commitment from all of us,” said Amos.
“A unanimous vote is incredibly rare, particularly five months before an election, and it signals that internet and cell phone connectivity are matters of national importance,” he added. 
The motion was introduced in late 2018 and had its first and second readings in February and April 2019. M-208 asked the government to continue its efforts to improve rural connectivity and to examine the possibility of making further rural digital infrastructure investments. Furthermore, it requested that the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology undertake a comprehensive study on rural wireless infrastructure, and that the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security study the public safety dimensions of rural
wireless infrastructure.
The importance of reliable cellular and internet coverage has been reiterated during recent natural disasters. “In the last few weeks, the lack of cell phone coverage once again left many municipal officials and citizens in rural areas isolated as they responded to flooding in Québec, Ontario and New Brunswick. It’s unacceptable that rural Canadians still struggle to call for assistance during natural disasters because of gaps in our digital infrastructure!” said Amos after the vote.
According to Amos, M-208 placed “constructive pressure” on the government which lead to the commitment to connect all Canadians to internet by
2030 and the 2019 federal budget announcement of a $5 billion investment over ten years in rural broadband.
Amos met with the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to discuss the comprehensive study the day following the vote. He will be meeting soon with John McKay, Chair of the Standing Committee on
Public Safety and National Security, to discuss the timeline to undertake the
second study. “There’s about six weeks left for this parliament, so time is
of the essence,” he told the Journal, noting the committees control their
own processes with broad direction from Parliament.