Canada invests nearly $208,000 to bring high-speed Internet to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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 access to reliable high-speed Internet as many of us are working, learning, and staying in touch with friends and family from home. Right now, too many Canadians living in rural and remote communities 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 Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, highlighted nearly $208,000 in federal funding to bring high-speed Internet to 145 underserved households in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation). Pic River Development Corporation is investing an additional $38,000 in this project.

This federal funding is part of the over $9.5 million investment in 11 projects, 10 of which are Indigenous led, announced by Minister Monsef earlier today. These projects will bring high-speed Internet to rural residents and Indigenous communities in Ontario, connecting 6,124 underserved households, almost half of which (2,953) are Indigenous households.

The Universal Broadband Fund was launched in November 2020. Projects funded under the now $2.75-billion 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 national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.

This project builds on the progress the Government of Canada has already made to improve critical infrastructure in Ontario. Since 2015, the federal government has invested more than $2.85 billion in over 4,060 infrastructure projects in Ontario communities with a population of fewer than 100,000 people. These investments mean 452 km of new or upgraded roads that are making our communities safer; more than 938 projects to provide residents with cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water; and more than 5,427 additional housing units built in rural communities, helping ensure all Ontarians have a safe place to call home.

Quotes

“High-speed Internet is essential for Northern Ontario. It connects us to work, school and each other. Today’s investment will provide reliable access to 145 underserved households in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg. This project is part of our commitment of over $9.5 million for 11 connectivity projects in Ontario that will connect over 6,100 households in rural and Indigenous communities to better, more reliable Internet.”

– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North

“Pic River Development Corporation is locally run and has been providing Internet service to over 150 homes in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg. We are proud to have run the business successfully for over 20 years and we have invested many times in keeping up with modern technology, but we operate on tight margins and competing with urban centres presents many challenges. After attending some Canadian Cable Systems Alliance conferences, we realized that we were not alone and that others shared the same struggles. We recognize the importance of the Universal Broadband Fund, and we are honoured to have our project selected. On behalf of PRDC and our community, we thank all those who believe in us. Our project will increase opportunity and quality of life in our community, and the funds will also support many Canadian businesses.”

– Bonnie Goodchild, General Manager, Pic River Development Corporation

Quick facts

  • 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.

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