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Almost two thirds of Manitobans who responded to a survey conducted by Keystone Agricultural Producers, the voice of Manitoba farmers, expressed dissatisfaction with their mobile phone and internet coverage according to a survey report released today. This comes at a time when a vast majority of Manitobans are increasingly reliant on both networks due to social distancing protocols.
“Farm operations require strong internet and cell coverage to conduct business and ensure that food continues to make its way to market,” said Jill Verwey, KAP vice president and chair of the rural policy committee. “We have heard deep-seated frustration from both farm families and non-farmers about the state of connectivity in rural Manitoba, and providers cannot continue to ask us to pay for a service that is subpar at best.”
Many of the comments on the survey reflected an inability to be in touch in emergency situations and with farm employees, a hindered ability to fully participate in business operations, or incurring additional costs to add a booster that works sporadically. There are also broad impacts for education, with respondents noting that they are unable to conduct schoolwork, access course materials, or participate in distance learning like webinars.
“With thousands of Manitobans stuck in their homes and relying on internet connections to accomplish important tasks like educating their children, we are all aware that present service levels are unacceptable with daily disruptions,” added Verwey. “The best time to fix these gaps was 5 years ago, the second-best time is now.”
1,557 Manitobans representing 113 municipalities took the survey and respondents came from all parts of the province. A full report will be shared with both the federal and provincial governments, as well as major service providers, later this year.
For more information:
Joey Dearborn, communications coordinator
Keystone Agricultural Producers