Bridging the digital divide in six northwestern Ontario communities

News Release

Over $4 million from the Government of Canada will improve high-speed Internet coverage from Stratton to Kejick

October 10, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Canadians in six northwestern Ontario communities will be able to connect with friends and family across Canada and around the world, participate in distance education, seize new business opportunities and search for jobs online, thanks to Government of Canada funding of up to $4.03 million for high-speed Internet.

The funding was announced by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

The funding is being allocated to Bell Canada through Connect to Innovate, a federal program that will enable Canadians in every region of the country to participate fully in the digital economy by providing remote and underserved communities with Internet access.

Bell Canada will build new fibre optic backbone in the communities of Stratton, Minahico, Madsen, the Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, the Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing, and Kejick (Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First Nation).

In addition to the federal funding, Bell is investing $1.3 million to build the backbone network needed to make higher speed Internet and greater data capacity available in each of these communities.

This funding is part of the Government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.


“Internet access is now an essential part of everyday life. Canadians go online to connect with friends and family, as well as for education, health services, entertainment and shopping. Faster Internet connections allow Canadians to get the skills and training they need to qualify for well-paying jobs. It allows them to innovate. The smallest businesses, no matter where they are located, can fully participate in the global marketplace and achieve global scale in a flash with faster Internet service. We can no longer consider high-speed Internet a luxury.”

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

“As Canada’s leader in broadband network investment and innovation, Bell is proud to partner with the federal government’s Connect to Innovate program to deliver advanced broadband access to these six communities in northwestern Ontario, creating new opportunities in education, health care and economic development. Bell’s world-class fibre and wireless networks already reach Canadians in every province and territory of the country, and we will continue to work to ensure that all Canadians can benefit from the very best in broadband technology.”

– George Cope, President and Chief Executive Officer, BCE and Bell Canada

“It is extremely important to ensure that northerners have access to high-speed Internet as it not only provides them with improved access to online services but also helps boost the economic viability of the region. In order to keep up in today’s world, businesses, both big and small, need to have fast, reliable Internet connections. These types of investments will help entice new businesses to northwestern Ontario and also provide residents with a higher quality of life.”

– The Honourable Bob Nault, Member of Parliament for Kenora

“Connect to Innovate is an excellent program that works to ensure that Canadians in every corner of the country are able to benefit from a fast and reliable Internet connection. I am pleased that six more communities in northwestern Ontario will soon be able to connect to essential social, educational and employment opportunities via the Internet, and I look forward to seeing what doors will be opened by these communities as a result of the funding.”

– Don Rusnak, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Rainy River

Quick Facts

  • The $500 million being invested through the Government’s Connect to Innovate program will go toward building the digital backbone of high-speed Internet networks. Backbone networks are the digital highways that move data in and out of communities. These highways carry large amounts of data that are essential for schools, hospitals, libraries and businesses to function in a global and digital world.

  • Connect to Innovate will also fund “last-mile” connections to households that don’t have Internet speeds of at least five megabits per second.

Associated Links


Follow the Minister on Twitter: @MinisterISED

Karl W. Sasseville
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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