Chatham-Kent-Leamington Member of Parliament Dave Epp is spearheading a campaign to address the need for more reliable and affordable cellular service in rural areas. Epp and local resident Ken Hamm are urging Canadians to join their cause, emphasizing the urgency after a tractor fire incident last July highlighted the critical need for better connectivity.
Epp shared stories of lost business calls, students facing challenges with remote timed tests, and incidents where the absence of cellular service jeopardized Medic-Alert response and stranded motorists. Epp expressed frustration with high rates and poor coverage, saying, "Reliable and affordable cellular service must become our national standard."
The campaign includes a petition to demonstrate the issue's severity and mobilize Canadians to demand corrective action. Epp emphasized the need for a higher national standard, insisting that every residential area in Ontario should have dependable cellular service and access to emergency services like 9-1-1.
To address the crisis, Epp called for an immediate review of Canada's cellular infrastructure by the Canadian Radio & Telecommunication Commission (CRTC), with a Quality-of-Service report due by February 2024. Additionally, he proposed a comprehensive study by the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology involving telecom service providers, consumers, public advocates, and industry experts, with a report to be issued by March 2024.
Epp and petitioners also urge the Ministers of Heritage and Innovation, Science, and Industry to table their departments' policies, regulations, and directives addressing the telecommunications crisis. Epp encouraged residents and businesses to sign the petition and rally support, stating, "The more signatures we get, the more measurably we can demonstrate the undeniable scale of the current problems and endangerments. Add your voice to this life-saving issue now."
Saeed Akhtar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tilbury Times Reporter, Tilbury Times Reporter