NEWS
02/09/2014 08:33 EST | Updated 04/11/2014 05:59 EDT

Federal budget to boost rural high-speed internet access

Tuesday's federal budget will include money to extend or improve high-speed internet access to 280,000 households and businesses in rural and remote areas, CBC News has learned.

The move, which was previewed in last fall's speech from the throne, is being pitched as part of the government's focus on consumers and also as part of its Economic Action Plan to stimulate economic growth and help small business, particularly in the North.

Details of the investment will come later, according to a government official.

With Tuesday's budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to keep to a deficit-reduction plan that will see a small surplus by next year's budget.

But he is also under pressure from the opposition, which has made consumer irritants — such as high cellphone rates — an issue in the House of Commons.

The government waged a public battle against the big three wireless companies in the fall, with an ad campaign calling for greater competition.

Now, it appears it is also ready to make additional infrastructure investment to improve broadband access in underserved areas.

Expanding high-speed internet access in rural areas was a Stephen Harper campaign promise in the 2008 election. The stimulus budget the next year included money to expand broadband access, and the government says it has already helped bring high-speed service to 200,000 households in areas that didn't already have it.

On Friday, Flaherty said he would also use the budget to change rules for charities to crack down on money laundering.

The minister said "some terrorist organizations" and crime organizations have been funnelling money through charities.

This will be Flaherty`s tenth budget. He released two budgets around 2011's election.

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