Rural and remote communities in northern Ontario will benefit from faster Internet

News release

Residents in six communities to get new or faster Internet access thanks to Government of Canada investment

August 2, 2018 – Sioux Lookout, Ontario

Internet access is more than just a convenience: communities, businesses and institutions need it to offer new services and create new opportunities. That’s why the Government of Canada is helping six Indigenous communities and up to 58 institutions in northern Ontario get online with new or improved high-speed Internet access.

David Lametti, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and the Honourable Bob Nault, Member of Parliament for Kenora, were at the Kuhkenah Network (K-Net) office, a First Nations–owned and ‑operated Internet service provider in Sioux Lookout, to announce an investment of $7.03 million in high-speed Internet.

This investment will help residents of these communities connect with family and friends, do business online, access telemedicine, participate in distance education and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the digital age.

To date, the Government of Canada has invested $61 million to bring high-speed Internet to Ontario’s rural and remote communities under Connect to Innovate.

The Government of Canada’s $500-million Connect to Innovate program is investing in 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.


“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. Our communities need this service to do business, upgrade their education and build stronger communities. Thanks to our Connect to Innovate program, more people will be able to participate fully in the digital economy.”

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

“For northern Ontario communities, digital investment through the Connect to Innovate program enhances opportunities for residents of all ages. This important investment will support industries like mining and forestry in data collection and observation, students and youth in learning, and residents in day-to-day life with connected devices. It’s all part of our government’s plan to help create opportunity in all communities, including rural communities in the North.”

– David Lametti, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“This federal funding will be used to upgrade the networks’ transport capacity and to provide enhanced fibre Internet service to the many anchor institutions and residential Internet subscribers in our region. Since 2015, the demand for Internet transport has outstripped our capacity to supply. This has caused gaps in telecommunications service delivery, which has created health and safety concerns in our communities. We will now be able to offer more transport capacity to our hospitals, ambulance bases, schools, band offices and health centres, as well as an affordable fibre-to-the-home Internet package to residential clients. Our youth have embraced this technology, and they will be at the forefront of developing the digital economy on the James Bay coast.”

– Rebecca Friday, President, Western James Bay Telecom Network, and Deputy Grand Chief, Mushkegowuk Council

Fort Severn First Nation is the most northern community in Ontario, located along the Hudson Bay coast. Fort Severn currently uses satellite bandwidth, but the current limit does not meet the demands of the community. Visiting doctors need to open their electronic medical records to support health services, school classrooms are limited in their use of 21st-century learning technologies, and in our band office it takes hours to open any document or up to two days to update software. This greatly reduces our capabilities in an age when everything is electronically transmitted. We are thrilled to receive this funding and are looking forward to accessing high-speed Internet comparable to that in the rest of Canada. This will assist our community in being more connected, it will help with service delivery, and our young people can take advantage of the technology for work and education."

– Paul Burke, Chief, Fort Severn First Nation

Quick facts

  • In addition to the $7.03 million invested today under the Connect to Innovate program:

    • applicants will contribute $1.76 million; and
    • other contributors will provide $100,000.
  • The organizations receiving federal funding are:

    • K-Net – $6.59 million to provide three Indigenous communities and up to 16 institutions with new or increased capacity to access high-speed Internet; and
    • Western James Bay Telecom Network – $441,000 to provide three Indigenous communities and up to 42 institutions with new or improved access to high-speed Internet services.
  • Connect to Innovate is one of several Government of Canada measures to improve telecommunications services for Canadians. Others are a $100-million investment to improve coverage and connectivity in rural areas with low-earth-orbit satellites; Connecting Families, an initiative that will provide many low-income Canadians with low-cost Internet and up to 50,000 computers to eligible households through the Computer for Schools program; a five-year plan for wireless spectrum release to promote competition and help drive down prices for Canadians and deliver better quality and coverage; and consultations to prepare Canada for 5G, the next generation of high-quality wireless systems that will enable e-health, connected cars and smart cities.

  • 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.

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Mallory Clyne
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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