Quebec rolls out plans for information highway
By the end of the century, health workers in Nunavik will use telemedicine technology to provide care to patients in remote communities.
MONTREAL The Quebec government is set to announce a province-wide telecommunications strategy that will bring the information highway to Nunavik between now and 1999.
A high-speed digital telecommunications network linking government offices across the province, including health and social service centres, is already on the drawing boards, sources with Quebec’s aboriginal affairs secretariat say.
“It’s going to be a very good project,” Jean Dupuis of the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) said excitedly last week.
A modern telecommunications network would permit health workers in isolated northern communities to consult medical specialists in the South via two-way video conferencing.
That means doctors would be able to examine and discuss patient x-rays, for instance, without having to airlift their clients to southern hospitals.
The Quebec-wide network should be completely in place by 1999.
At least that’s the scenario Quebec’s Secrétariat des Affaires autochtones described to Nunavik administrators Dec 10, during a meeting in Quebec City.
The provincial government will invite private businesses to bid for the contract to develop the telecommunications network in the new year, sources told Nunatisaq News. Quebec is said to want a network capable of transmitting 45 megabits of information per second fast enough enough to support instant two-way video conferencing.
Not only will health centres and nursing stations in Nunavik eventually be connected to the network, the offices of the KRG and the Kativik School Board would also be linked.
A similar project to build and maintain a high-speed telecommunications network in neighboring Northwest Territories is already underway.
Sources say private computer users will also benefit from the extension of the information highway into the Nunavik, since whomever wins the contract will also be permitted to furnish internet services to the public.
A three-month-long review of Quebec’s telecommunications needs is set to begin in January, before the contract is tendered.
The plan was introduced to Nunavik leaders during a special meeting with officials of the Secrétariat des Affaires autochtones.
“I felt I was meeting Santa Claus two weeks early,” KRG president Dupuis commented.