Alberta’s minister of Technology and Innovation has given the Trudeau Liberals an ultimatum on internet service funding.
Minister Nate Glubish said the United Conservative Party (UCP) will move forward with providing urgently needed high-speed internet access to Strathcona residents, even if doing so breaks a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the feds.
The development comes as residents in the Strathcona County area have been complaining for months due to terrible cell service and internet connection. Many residents are unable to use their cell phones from inside their own homes or while driving.
Glubish said last week that the UCP recognizes the urgency of the problem, despite the feds’ timeline.
“The feds are holding up their end of the investment,” he said, referring to the fact that Ottawa is currently unwilling to match provincial funding for Strathcona — at least not until their stated timeframe of 2030.
“My fear is that we just stay the course, that they will hold off on all of the investments and because we committed to co-investing with them, that means our money sits idol as well. So I’ve kind of issued an ultimatum to the feds…” he added.
Glubish further alluded to the MOU that requires both provincial and federal governments to match funding towards high-speed internet development and infrastructure.
The province and feds have a $96 million agreement meant to provide high-speed internet access to several communities — but Strathcona isn’t one of them.
Glubish said the UCP will front the money to get the infrastructure needed for Strathcona, and if doing so isn’t matched by the feds, or breaks their MOU, “so be it.”
“I’d rather spend the money that we committed to Albertans and get half of the job done in this next term than to get none of the progress and just complain about the feds,” Glubish said.