Announcement of Connect to Innovate Program and Website


Speaking Points

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Wakefield, Quebec

December 15, 2016

Check Against Delivery

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here.

And thank you, Will [Will Amos, Member of Parliament for Pontiac], for that kind introduction.

It's a real pleasure to finally visit your neck of the woods.

You've often told me that Wakefield is rich in scenery.

And you're absolutely right.

But even here, in this serene village in the Gatineau Hills, we see profound changes brought on by technology.

It has fundamentally changed the ways we learn, work and play.

Internet access is now an essential part of our everyday life.

We go online for education, health services, entertainment and almost everything else.

Every Canadian should have access to high-speed Internet.

It's an absolute necessity if we want to compete in today's digital and global economy.

Fortunately, Canada has good quality high-speed networks in its cities.

Our telecommunications companies invested more than $13 billion last year.

But we cannot rest on our success.

The era of the smart city has arrived. We need to start planning and building networks that are 10 times faster than the current standard.

But this high-speed revolution cannot just be confined to cities.

Networks need to be extended to remote and rural areas.

Families in all regions need access to the benefits that faster, next-generation networks can bring.

High-speed Internet can unlock tremendous economic potential, leading to the creation of new products, businesses and jobs for the middle class.

That's why I'm pleased to announce today that we are delivering on our Budget 2016 commitment to invest up to $500 million in high-speed Internet.

This investment will extend broadband service to rural and remote communities across Canada.

We call the program "Connect to Innovate."

It was developed following extensive consultations with hundreds of stakeholders across the country.

Connect to Innovate focuses on building what's called the "backbone" of high-speed Internet networks.

Backbone networks are the digital highways that move data in and out of communities.

And since these highways can carry large amounts of data, they're crucial for institutions such as schools, hospitals and libraries in rural and remote regions.

They enable physicians to see patients remotely from a distance—an application known as telehealth.

And they allow students in one classroom to connect with their peers in other parts of the country—an application known as virtual classrooms.

The new program will also support the unique connectivity challenges faced by satellite-dependent northern communities.

A portion of the program's funding will support upgrades to existing backbone networks.

And it will also fund "last-mile" connections to households that don't have Internet speeds of at least 5 megabits per second.

Today, we are also launching a new website for the Connect to Innovate program.

Visitors to the site can get detailed information about the program and the application process.

I encourage you to check it out.

Now, since I'm here in beautiful Wakefield, I also want to take the opportunity to make another important announcement for this community.

Visitors to this village come to take in the scenery and enjoy the restaurants and shops. They go skiing, canoeing or hiking in the Gatineau Hills. And they come to check out the historic covered bridge.

Tourists stop in to pay their respects to Lester B. Pearson, who rests in the MacLaren Cemetery.

And families and friends gather at the magnificent park along the bay.

These places give true meaning to the expression "feeling at home."

When we feel at home, we're in a place where we can discover our differences and appreciate the many cultures that bring our country together.

Our community infrastructure plays an essential role in bringing us together.

That's why I'm proud to make a second announcement.

Under the Community Infrastructure Program that marks Canada's 150th anniversary, the Wakefield–La Pêche Chamber will receive $479,000 to enhance the shoreline of Wakefield Bay.

Ladies and gentlemen, we hope today's announcements will bring transformative change to Wakefield and other rural and remote communities across Canada.

We want to help build a better Canada.

One that provides equality of opportunity to everyone.

One that fosters a thriving middle class open to new economic, social and environmental possibilities.

Because now more than ever, we need our country to be at its absolute best, especially if we want to compete with countries around the world for the most talented people, the fastest-growing companies and the newest technologies.

Why are these such urgent priorities?

Because Canada and other advanced economies face new pressures.

Global companies are becoming local competitors.

Climate change is reshaping the ways we meet our energy needs.

Canada will have fewer working-age people as our population ages.

And, as I've mentioned, technology is digitizing our world and automating every aspect of our lives, including our jobs.

There's no doubt that these challenges are daunting.

But low growth does not have to be Canada's destiny.

We can see these pressures as opportunities and seize the future.

Our vision is to make Canada a global centre for innovation.

At its most basic, innovation is about making things better—and in ways that benefit everyone.

Better jobs.

Better opportunities.

Better health.

Better living standards.

Better future.

That's how innovation builds a better Canada—whether in the city or the country.

Thank you.

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