At a time when the federal government is about to announce the terms and conditions of its $1.7 billion Universal Broadband Fund, CUPE Quebec is calling for rules that will maximize the relaunch of the economy and job creation in Canada.

For starters, CUPE salutes the initiative of the government to expand access to high-speed Internet, a service that is critical to society and the economy during this pandemic. However, at a time when the job market and the Canadian economy are in the throes of extreme turbulence, the issue of the regional and national repercussions this fund will have is crucial.

“Large telecommunication companies that will benefit from the fund may be tempted to use it to pay subcontractors, affiliates and labour outside the country. But since the issue here is public funding, we must absolutely maximize its effects on the Canadian economy. Money from taxpayers must be used to create jobs in Canada. That said, companies receiving subsidies from the fund must be prohibited from using foreign subcontractors or affiliates established outside the country to do work. This same ban will have to be extended to the operation of telecommunication services in the regions being served,” explained Nick Mingione, President of the Conseil provincial du secteur des communications (CPSC) of CUPE Quebec.

CPSC brought forward this demand in June in a letter to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, and to the Minister of Rural Economic Development, Maryam Monsef.

A survey conducted by CROP at the request of CUPE prior to the pandemic indicated that a vast majority of Quebeckers are in favour of the position put forward, with 86% of the 1,011 respondents in this survey voicing opposition to telecommunications companies shifting jobs outside our borders if they are receiving a subsidy.

When informed that telecommunications companies are subcontracting some of their activities abroad, 84% of respondents expressed concern about the protection of their personal data, and 84% were also worried about national security.

CPSC-CUPE is about to launch a public campaign in favour of creating jobs in Canada in the telecommunications sector.