Trudeau’s internet funds will be difficult to coordinate: experts

The government wants to connect 100 per cent of Canadians to high-speed internet by 2030. REUTERS
The government wants to connect 100 per cent of Canadians to high-speed internet by 2030. REUTERS

Experts say Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is going to have a challenging time coordinating between different departments to roll out funding for broadband internet projects as the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced $2 billion to connect Canadians.

Trudeau, with Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, and Michael Sabia, chair of the board of the CIB, announced Thursday the $10 billion CIB’s growth plan in an effort to support Canada’s COVID-19 economic recovery. 

The additional $1 billion from the CIB that was announced in the 2019 budget, will connect about 750,000 homes and small businesses to broadband services in “underserved communities,” over the next three years. Sabia said funds from today’s announcement will be rolled out by the end of 2020.

John Lawford, executive director and general counsel of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, said in an interview that while the announcement is positive, it is more of a political move under the “excuse of COVID.”

“I haven’t seen a coordinated government thing. This is yet another sort of political layer of funding on top of all the other political layers of funding on top of the very inadequate CRTC fund,” Lawford said. 

Since 2016, the government has announced various funds to help connect more Canadians to broadband services. This includes the $585 million Connect to Innovate program administered through the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Ministry; the $1.7 billion Universal Broadband Fund administered through the Rural Economic Development Ministry; and $2 billion that would be brought in through private investment announced in the 2019 budget. 

The CRTC also announced its own $750M Broadband Fund in late 2016. 

In the 2019 budget, the government pledged to connect 100 per cent of Canadians to broadband internet services by

Amazon funds computer science program, donates $30K in school supplies

Hamilton County Schools’ latest partnership with Amazon will benefit tens of thousands of students, officials said.

The American multinational technology company plans to fund a computer science initiative — influencing more than 21,700 Hamilton County students in 42 elementary schools as part of its Amazon Future Engineer program. Amazon is also working with BootUp , a nonprofit professional development provider helping teachers bridge the equity skill gaps among the students.

The company’s commitment to the school district is part of a $50 million nationwide investment towards STEM education, primarily through the program. The area campuses will join more than 60 high schools and more than 80 elementary schools already participating in the program statewide.

Through a news release, Hamilton County Superintendent Bryan Johnson said the partnership will help the district reach one of its goals of students being prepared for success after graduation. The objective is part of the district’s Future Ready 2023 action plan.

“Computer skills are vital for young people, and the early start in this program for our elementary children will reap benefits while the students are in school and as they move forward in a college or career after they leave high school.”

In the same news release, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said he looks forward to a future conversation with the teachers and students helped by the program.

On Friday the multibillion-dollar company went a step further in its efforts to support the school district with a $30,000 donation in school supplies.

Amazon employees delivered more than 11 pallets of supplies to Bess T. Shepherd Elementary School, located close to the 7200 Discovery Drive site.

The supplies were funded by Chattanooga Amazon Fulfillment Center staffers, who collected $15,000 worth of school supplies. Their donation was matched by a $15,000 monetary donation by Amazon’s Seattle-based