Government of Canada invests over $9.5 million to bring high-speed Internet to 6,124 homes in rural and Indigenous communities in Ontario
Close to 3,000 Indigenous households to benefit from improved connectivity
June 23, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on our connections. Now more than ever, Canadians across the country need reliable high-speed Internet as many of us are working, learning, accessing essential services, and staying in touch with friends and family from home. Right now, too many residents in rural, remote and Indigenous communities in Canada lack access to high-speed Internet. Through the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) Rapid Response Stream, the Government of Canada is taking immediate action to get Canadians connected to the high-speed Internet they need.
Today, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced over $9.5 million in federal funding for 11 projects that will bring high-speed Internet to 17 rural and Indigenous communities in Ontario. These projects will connect 6,124 underserved households, 2,953 of which are in Indigenous communities. Of the 11 projects, 10 are led by Indigenous applicants. The following communities and areas will benefit from these high-speed Internet projects:
- Animakee Wa Zhing 37
- Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows)
- Big Grassy First Nation
- Chapleau Ojibwe First Nation
- Chippewas of Georgina Island
- Mishkeegogamang Ojibway First Nation region
- North Spirit Lake First Nation region
- North West Angle No. 33 First Nation
- Northwest Angle No. 37 First Nation
- Ojibway Nation of Saugeen region
- Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation
- Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation (Biigtigong Nishnaabeg) region
- Rural areas near Kenora
- Sioux Narrows
- The region of Kejick (Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First Nation)
- Wauzhushk Onigum
Today’s announcement is another important step toward bridging the infrastructure gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Canada. In the spirit of reconciliation and in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, the Government of Canada, through Budget 2021, has laid out a $6‑billion plan to build infrastructure in Indigenous communities, including the establishment of the $4.3‑billion Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund. This fund would advance key infrastructure priorities, such as clean drinking water projects, housing, schools, broadband and health care facilities, in Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast.
As part of this work, Government of Canada is committed to addressing the urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by providing adequate and affordable housing—in particular, housing that will help serve the needs of women and their children. Investments will be made in housing through directed initiatives such as the Rapid Housing Initiative, the Federal Community Housing Initiative, the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund and the Canada Housing Benefit, which would increase direct financial rental assistance for women and children in low-income situations who are fleeing violence. Together, these initiatives will help many low-income Canadians, including Indigenous women, children and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, find a safe and affordable place to take shelter and call home.
To date, the Government of Canada has approved high-speed internet projects that will connect 3,386 Indigenous households in Ontario through the Rapid Response Stream of the Universal Broadband Fund, with more announcements to come.
In addition, 108 long-term boil water advisories have been lifted, 182 short-term drinking water advisories have been prevented from becoming long-term, and over $4.27 billion has been invested from the federal government in clean water infrastructure.
Following the announcement, the ministers hosted a private roundtable to discuss the impacts of these connectivity projects in Indigenous communities, and to hear more about the unique broadband infrastructure needs in these areas. The takeaways from these discussions are integral to informing the path forward in connecting Indigenous communities throughout Canada to the high-speed Internet they need.
The Universal Broadband Fund was launched in November 2020 and, as a result of Budget 2021, it is now a $2.75-billion program. Projects funded under the UBF, as well as through other public and private investments, will help connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026 and achieve the Government of Canada’s national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.
“High-speed Internet service is essential to the success of everyone living in Indigenous communities and in our rural and remote areas. Today’s investment will bring reliable, high-speed Internet access to 6,124 households in Ontario, 2,953 of which are in Indigenous communities. Broadband infrastructure in these communities will help create jobs, improve access to health care and online learning services, and keep families and friends connected to their loved ones. It will also help keep our most vulnerable communities safe and is a pillar of our goal to end violence against women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. We will continue to make investments like these to connect every Indigenous community across the country to the high-speed Internet they need.”
- The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
“This funding will further close the infrastructure gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities. The Universal Broadband Fund is an important program that continues to support Indigenous peoples’ access to high-speed Internet and enhances education and business opportunities in their communities.”
- The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services
“Throughout the development of the 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan, including the Federal Pathway, we heard from Indigenous partners across the country about how important it was to improve Internet access to promote community safety and wellness. Internet access is essential for staying connected with friends and family, as well as for health care, employment and education. These pieces are integral to ending violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. Today’s announcement is a major step in ensuring that everyone in Ontario has access to high-speed Internet, wherever they live.”
- The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Canada’s Connectivity Strategy aims to provide all Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download / 10 Mbps upload.
The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) is a $2.75-billion investment designed to help connect all Canadians to high-speed Internet. Applications to the UBF were accepted until March 15, 2021, and are now being evaluated.
The UBF is part of a suite of federal investments to improve high-speed Internet. The suite includes the Connect to Innovate program, which is expected to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023, and the recently announced $2-billion broadband initiative from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Thanks to recent federal and provincial investments, Highway 16 in British Columbia, also known as the Highway of Tears, will soon have cellular coverage along the entire route.
The government’s $585-million investment under the Connect to Innovate program will connect over 975 communities, 190 of which are Indigenous.
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Follow Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on Twitter: @ISED_CA
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