OTTAWA—People in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing and across Northern Ontario rely on weather forecasting that is both accurate and readily available, which is why they have learned to trust the Weather Network, according to MP Carol Hughes.
Ms. Hughes appeared as a witness before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) last week, to make the case for keeping the Weather Network in the basic cable packages made available to Canadians.
The MP focused on issues important to rural and northern communities such as the need to plan for safe travel.
“One thing that separates us in the north from larger urban centres is transportation. People in rural and northern communities are often dependent on cars and in most towns there is no public transportation,” said Mr. Hughes. “That means most people in the area get themselves around, and to do this safely they require good forecasting and road condition reports. This is especially true in the winter.”
Ms. Hughes also made the commission aware of the fact that seniors can be more comfortable getting their weather information from television as opposed to internet-based forecasting.
“The needs of seniors differ significantly from those of younger people who are far more connected with modern conveniences such as smart phones,” said Ms. Hughes. “For seniors, the Weather Network is an important tool. It allows them to quickly check the weather, at any time, in the format they prefer.”
The MP told CRTC that even if people wanted to use the internet to check on the weather, there are still barriers in parts of rural Canada that make the exercise impossible.
“It is also important to note that in this part of Ontario we do not have complete internet access,” said Ms. Hughes. “While this has been improving, there are still parts of the riding that have little or no service and people in those areas do not rely on the internet to provide them with weather forecasting.”
Ms. Hughes also spoke to new barriers that could reduce internet and cell service in communities that already have coverage.
“Renewal leases on critical transmission infrastructure could be increased by as much as 50 to 700 percent,” said Ms. Hughes. “This will have an impact on smaller communities in the north like Foleyet and many others who could stand to lose service if the companies cannot shoulder that expense.”
Ms. Hughes was the only parliamentarian to appear in support of the Weather Network, but noted there is support for the channel remaining on basic cable across all parties and that she is joined by 34 MPs who wrote the commission on the matter.