June 4, 2014: Northern Connections: Broadband and Canada’s Digital Divide (final report)
Almost every aspect of modern social and economic development is inextricably linked to the Internet. However, while connectivity in many parts of Canada is at an all-time high, economically disadvantaged and geographically remote areas are increasingly being left behind. Nowhere is this digital divide more glaring than in the North.
Despite the North’s immense economic, political, and cultural value, it experiences significantly higher Internet costs and slower connectivity speeds than the rest of Canada. The situation is exacerbated by considerable infrastructure challenges.
In winter 2014, Canada’s Public Policy Forum undertook a major initiative to consider how stakeholders might focus their efforts to improve northern connectivity. We convened two multi-sector, leadership-level roundtable discussions in Whitehorse and Iqaluit, followed by an executive briefing in Ottawa. Participants included leaders from the three territorial governments, the federal government, the private sector, Aboriginal organizations, and other groups. This report highlights our findings, outlining key challenges and solutions participants identified as having the greatest potential for impact.