Policy-makers need to pause, breathe deeply, think wisely and make sure Canada’s first priority is a strong and unfettered internet, writes Peter Menzies. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Peter Menzies, April 22, 2020
To the extent there is still a functioning economy in Canada, we can thank the internet for ensuring millions of us can work from home and hang onto our jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Were it not for the widespread availability of this remarkable tool, far more of us would be crying out for government income assistance while pleading with our debtors for mortgage and other deferrals. For that matter, how would we even know about or apply for relief were it not for the internet, this marvellous new technology that over the past quarter century has become vital to meeting the needs of Canadians?
The answer is that we wouldn’t. And it’s quite possible that were it not for the development of this unfettered network, far more of us would still be spreading the COVID-19 virus through workplaces we couldn’t avoid thanks to bills we couldn’t neglect. Little more than a generation ago, when few of us had a personal computer, let alone a laptop, iPhone or network on which to send and receive data, our current reaction to this existential threat simply would not have been possible. But thanks to the internet we are capable of the current levels of economic activity during self-isolations that so far appear to be significantly diminishing the nevertheless grim impact of the pandemic.
Peter Menzies is a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and former CRTC vice-chair of telecommunications.