The government on Tuesday morning confirmed a $150 million envelope to end its commitment to connect all Quebec homes to high-speed internet by September 2022. An additional 15,000 to 30,000 homes could be connected.
This new investment, Phase 3 of the Éclair project, would make it possible to connect the orphanages scattered in remote areas of the province. The person in charge of the project in the government, Parliamentary Assistant to the Prime Minister, Gilles Bellanger, said that everything must be done quickly.
“312 days left to connect all families in Quebec. It’s not a lot. Our government has made a bold commitment,” Mr. Bellanger admitted at a press conference, but insisted he had a high level of confidence.
“Éclair III is a very fast tool. Normally, in order to award contracts, we talked about several months, with the Eclair III component, we talk about a few days,” explained the manager, assuring that about thirty projects were already on the table.
Photo by Pierre Paul Peron
Left to Right: Luc Provencal, Member of Parliament for the Bos Nord region; Jill Belanger, Parliamentary Assistant to the Prime Minister for High Speed Internet Component; Stephanie Lachance, MP for Belchas; André Lamontagne, Minister of Agriculture and in charge of the Chaudiere-Appalaches region; Jacques Demers, President of the Federation of Quebec Municipalities.
After launching the first two phases of the project earlier in 2021, the Quebec government created the latest milestone aimed at reaching families isolated or simply not included in recent coverage maps for the province.
“What we’re talking about today are areas that haven’t been assigned, or parts of classes, or maybe that wasn’t part of the map given to Bell or Videotron for a specific area. These are really exceptional cases and cases that are hard to relate to,” explains Gil Belanger.
This new investment rejoices and reassures the president of the Federation of Municipalities (FQM), who wants to leave no home behind.
“The next step, the importance that the world of municipalities will have, is to look at the maps and look concretely on the ground at the homes we have left. This is a very important step, and we must not forget anyone,” Jack Demers emphasized.
The latter also confirmed the impact of this technological leap on many of its members.
There is a government promise that we will not forget. That’s from 5,000 government employee jobs in the region. If we want to have it, we must also equip it,” the FQM head cites as an example. “People say they want to live in the areas, they should get the tools.”
“Ready for any eventuality”
According to government estimates, there are currently about 200,000 families who still cannot access high-speed internet. With a lot of work already underway, Jill Belanger hopes that number will be “a little over 100,000” during the next status update, scheduled for the beginning of 2022.
So the next few months will be crucial for the government to reach the target set next September.
Especially since Bill indicated in a press release weeks ago that he had doubts about the possibility of achieving this goal. The resource, which must grant access rights to its poles to several Internet providers, claimed that it received only half of the requests necessary to continue the work.
Note: Don’t worry about Jill Belanger for now.
Perhaps the number was a bit exaggerated. We end up at a snail’s pace asking for permits that meet the goals,” he points out, referring to the person in charge of the file, adding that Quebec is “ready for any eventuality.”
“On contracts, we follow up every month. If a supplier falls behind schedule, we have the option of defaulting and hiring another supplier. […] And I won’t wait until September 30, 2022 to tell a supplier it’s late.”
The total cost of the Quebec operation is currently $1.3 billion.
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