More than 100 rural communities in Manitoba will benefit from faster Internet

News Release

$83.9 million will improve high-speed Internet coverage in the province, allowing residents to get online faster

January 9, 2018 – Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Government of Canada is helping close the connectivity gap in Manitoba through a combined investment of $83.9 million that will enable 109* rural and remote communities to get online and access high-speed Internet. Of these 109* communities, 48 are First Nations and 21 are located in regions without year-round road access. This investment will allow all Manitobans to do business online, participate in distance education and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the digital age.

The funding was announced by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and the Honourable Brian Pallister, Premier of Manitoba, at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg.

Investing in high-speed Internet infrastructure helps Canadians access information, participate in the economy and stay in touch with friends and family. It also connects schools, hospitals, libraries and businesses to networks that are essential to their services.

Connect to Innovate is a program that aims to provide Canadians in underserved communities with access to high-speed Internet by investing in backbone networks, upgrading capacity and extending access.

The $500 million invested under 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 digital world.

Connect to Innovate will also fund last-mile connections to households that don’t have high-speed Internet.


“Access to high-speed Internet is not a luxury; it’s essential. High-speed Internet service is a basic tool that all Canadians should have access to, regardless of where they live. Canadians need this service to do business, upgrade their education and build stronger communities. Thanks to our Connect to Innovate program, more Canadians will be able to participate fully in the digital economy.”

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

“This investment in high-speed Internet will provide significant improvements in access to educational, health, social, and economic resources for so many communities in Manitoba, including 48 First Nations communities, of which 18 are in remote regions. I am pleased to see that these investments also include First Nations partners and owners that will support the building of these much-needed networks and provide the opportunity for some communities to own, operate and control their own broadband networks.”

– The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services

“There is enormous potential in northern Manitoba. Developing that potential is a priority of our provincial government, and to do that we need the tools to maximize our opportunities. This exciting project to increase and deliver reliable access to broadband networks is key to unlocking the potential of our remote northern communities. This enhanced service will create economic opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities and improve the health and quality of life of all residents across this vast region.”

– The Honourable Brian Pallister, Premier of Manitoba

"This is a remarkable day for us and for Manitoba First Nations. A goal will now become reality: to see enhanced access to high-speed Internet and the opportunities and services that come with improved Internet services. We look forward to the continued work to build a faster, reliable network for First Nations in Manitoba."

– Chief Nelson Genaille of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, Co-chair of Clear Sky Connections

Quick Facts

  • Of the $83.9 million invested in Manitoba:

    • $43.7 million will come from the Connect to Innovate program;
    • $3.5 million will come from Indigenous Services Canada;
    • $20 million will come as an in-kind contribution from the Government of Manitoba; and
    • $16.7 million will come from other contributors.
  • The companies receiving federal funding are:

    • Wekitowak Communications (formerly known as Clear Sky Communications)—$33.5 million to provide 72 communities, including 37 First Nations communities of which 18 are located in remote regions of northern Manitoba, and 88 institutions with access to high-speed Internet services that is on par with southern urban areas;
    • Valley Fiber Limited—$10.3 million to improve high-speed Internet service for 24* communities and 21* institutions;
    • Bell MTS—$2.7 million to improve connectivity for eight communities, of which six are First Nations, and nine institutions in Northeastern Manitoba; and
    • Broadband Communications North—$673,000 to improve connectivity for a total of six underserved communities, of which five are First Nations.
  • The Government of Manitoba’s $20 million in-kind contribution is for Wekitowak Communications to access and utilize Manitoba Hydro’s established fibre optic cable network and related assets to provide increased broadband connection to First Nations as well as rural and northern Manitoba communities. The Wekitowak Communications project will give First Nations communities in northern Manitoba the opportunity to own, operate and control their own broadband networks.

  • Of the $43.7 million in Connect to Innovate funding announced today, $38.5 million is for backbone networks that will bring fibre to the majority of the 109* communities, connect institutions and indirectly improve Internet connections for an estimated 19,000 households, while $5.17 million is going to be used to directly connect 4,150 underserved households that cannot even access service of 5 Mbps.

  • Connect to Innovate is part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class.

Associated Links


Follow Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on Twitter: @ISED_CA

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

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

* Values were updated on February 2, 2018.

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