NDP calls for real investment to reverse Sask. Party’s legacy of failure on rural connectivity

REGINA - NDP Critic for SaskTel Trent Wotherspoon called on the provincial government to stand up for rural communities and allow SaskTel to invest properly in rural connectivity.

“Rural residents deserve so much better from this Sask. Party government, a government that’s taken them for granted for too long,” said Wotherspoon. “We hear a lot from families who want to know why this government won’t make rural connectivity a priority. In the 21st century, connectivity isn’t a luxury; it’s an essential service.”

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission recommends standard internet speeds of 50 mbps for download, 10 for upload. In 2019 (the most recent statistics available from CRTC) Saskatchewan has 71.1% of households meeting that target, far below the national average of 87.4%. In terms of rural household connectivity, in 2019 Saskatchewan was at 23.9% - behind every province but Manitoba and below the national average of 45.6%.  

“The Sask. Party has stripped $373.4 million in dividends in the last five years to pay for their failures - and has left rural families behind as a result,” said Wotherspoon. “It’s long past time for the Sask. Party to allow SaskTel to hold on to more of its dollars, so it can responsibly invest in making connectivity happen all across Saskatchewan as a provincial initiative.”

“We know coming out of COVID-19 that connectivity will be crucial to the economic success of our province - in our cities, our farms, our towns and on reserve,” said Wotherspoon. “We have the unique opportunity to put our telecommunications Crown to work providing good jobs right now here in Saskatchewan, and contributing to the prosperity of our province for the future.”