Expanding Broadband Infrastructure in Remote Northern Ontario
Joint Investment to Bring High Speed Internet Access to Matawa First Nations in the Ring of Fire Region
October 6, 2017 – Thunder Bay, Ontario – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
People living in five Northern Ontario First Nation communities will be able to connect with friends and family across Canada and around the world, and have improved access to distance education, skills training, and new business opportunities, thanks to a joint investment from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario of up to $69.2 million in the Ring of Fire region.
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced Canada will invest up to $37.1 million in the project, through Connect to Innovate, a federal program that allows Canadians in every region of the country to participate fully in the digital economy, by providing remote and underserved communities with Internet access. Connect to Innovate funding will be allocated to Rapid Lynx Telecommunications to install about 880 kilometres of new fibre optic cable to five fly-in communities in Northern Ontario.
Michael Gravelle, Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines, announced the Province will invest up to $30 million to the Matawa First Nations Management Inc. to bring modern fibre-optic cable to the area. The project will see the installation of buried cable from Wunnumin Lake through the five Matawa-member communities of Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Eabametoong, Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations, connecting south to Aroland First Nation.
The Government of Canada is also providing $2.1 million for this project through its First Nation Infrastructure Fund through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, a program that helps advance public infrastructure to improve the quality of life and the environment for First Nation communities.
The ministers were joined today in Thunder Bay at the announcement by Don Rusnak, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott, Chief Bruce Achneepineskum, of Marten Falls First Nation, Chief Elizabeth Atlookan, Eabametoong First Nation and Chief Wayne Moonias, Neskantaga First Nation.
“We’re proud to invest $37.1 million to ensure that high speed Internet is accessible to every Canadian. We know that the internet is no longer a luxury and access is now an essential part of everyday life. Canadians go online to connect with friends and family, 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.””
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
“By investing in broadband infrastructure that will bring high speed Internet to Matawa-member First Nations, Ontario will help improve the quality of life of residents by increasing fairness and opportunity for everyone. Our government recognizes that the availability of high‑speed Internet infrastructure is critical for economic development and access to important resources and services such as health care and education.”
— Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines
“Internet access for all Canadians, no matter where they live, is critical. Projects like this one will enable these five First Nations communities to have greater access to important digital tools, leading to greater educational and economic opportunity, and ultimately stronger communities.”
– The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services
“The Matawa First Nations are thrilled with the funding investments for this legacy project that addresses our long-standing community concerns. Our First Nation community members will benefit in so many ways. Connectivity is crucial to their well-being. Better services through broadband fibre optic construction will eliminate the digital divide between our First Nations and the rest of the world. It will facilitate greater efficiencies in the delivery of First Nation services, including access to health and education technologies and practices, grants and programs, family and court services, banking and credit services and the gamut of other opportunities that high-speed internet provides.”
– David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO, Matawa First Nations Management
The $500 million invested under the Government’s Connect to Innovate program focuses on 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.
Since 2011, Ontario has contributed more than $114 million to help communities and tribal councils prepare for Ring of Fire development opportunities, including skills development, capacity building, community well-being studies, community-based training programs and economic development funding.
Ontario’s Mineral Development Strategy is creating modern and progressive business practices to make sure the mineral sector continues to create new opportunities for generations to come.
Karl W. Sasseville
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Office of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines
Senior Media Advisor
Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
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