Rural communities to benefit from increased connectivity
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‘s (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, announced over $4.2 million in federal funding for three projects to bring high-speed Internet to 1,550 underserved households in South River, Emsdale, Burk’s Falls, Sundridge, Greenhurst-Thurstonia, Dunsford and Pakenham, Ontario. Bell Canada is investing an additional $900,000, while Lakeland Energy is contributing $1.7 million.
The projects being announced today were approved within five months of the November 2020 formal launch of the $1.75-billion UBF. 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 national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.
Today’s announcement builds on the progress the Government of Canada has already made to improve critical infrastructure in Ontario. Since 2015, the federal government has approved over 4,060 infrastructure projects, totalling over $2.85 billion in federal investments in Ontario communities with a population of less than 100,000 people. These investments mean 481 km of new or upgraded roads that are making our communities safer; more than 938 projects that are providing residents with cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water; and more than 5,427 additional housing units in rural communities, helping ensure all Ontarians have a safe place to call home.
“High-speed Internet service is essential to the success of everyone living and working in rural Ontario. Today’s investment will bring reliable, high-speed Internet access to 1,550 households in South River, Emsdale, Burk’s Falls, Sundridge, Greenhurst-Thurstonia, Dunsford and Pakenham, helping create jobs, improving access to health care and online learning services, and keeping people connected to their loved ones. Our government has committed over $242 million to 40 connectivity projects in Ontario, which will connect over 87,000 households to better, faster Internet. We will continue to make investments like these to help connect every Canadian to the high-speed Internet they need.”
– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
“Lakeland Energy Ltd. is thrilled to work in partnership with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to continue expanding our fibre-optic network throughout Almaguin Highlands. These investments will help provide access to reliable high-speed Internet at a time when connectivity is essential to a good quality of life. Lakeland Networks, the retail arm of Lakeland Energy Ltd., being municipally owned and community focused, is proud to continue working toward our goal of helping more Canadians in Almaguin Highlands get connected.”
– Margaret Maw, Chief Financial Officer, Lakeland Energy
“Access to high-speed broadband networks will be a driver of Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to future social and economic prosperity, and Bell has committed to further accelerating our industry-leading capital investment plan over the next two years to connect even more communities across the country. We’re proud to invest over $900,000 and to partner with the Government of Canada to provide residents of Dunsford and Pakenham with access to the fastest fibre home Internet speeds available.”
– Bruce Furlong, Senior Vice President, Access Engineering and Deployment, Bell Canada
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 $1.75-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.