March 16, 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 Jim Carr, Special Representative for the Prairies, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced over $5.4 million in federal funding for projects to bring high-speed Internet to rural residents of northern, central and southern Alberta, with an additional investment of approximately $3.7 million from TELUS. These projects will help connect 5,080 underserved households to high-speed Internet.
The $1.75-billion Universal Broadband Fund was launched on November 9, 2020. The projects being announced today were approved within two months of the formal launch of the 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 national target of 100% connectivity by 2030.
To facilitate applications for projects like these, the UBF provides additional “pathfinder” support for all applicants, but particularly small applicants, to build partnerships, find potential sources of funding and navigate the application process.
Today’s announcement builds on the progress the Government of Canada has already made to support Albertans living in rural and remote communities. Since 2015, the federal government has invested over $1.1 billion in more than 1,740 infrastructure projects in Alberta communities. These investments mean 604 km of new or upgraded roads that are making our communities safer; more than 235 projects that are providing residents with cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water; and more than 3,236 additional housing units in rural communities, helping ensure all Albertans have a safe place to call home.
“High-speed Internet service is essential to the success of everyone living and working in rural Alberta. Today’s investment will bring reliable, high-speed Internet access to 5,080 households across the province. This will help create jobs, improve access to health care and online learning services, and keep people connected to their loved ones. Our government has committed over $39 million to 18 projects in Alberta, which will connect over 41,000 more 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
“The Government of Canada recognizes that access to high-speed Internet is critical for the economic development of rural, remote and northern communities and for Canada’s overall recovery from the pandemic. The $5.4 million announced today, with TELUS’s investment of $3.7 million, is going to have a real impact on residents in rural Alberta and is an example of what we can accomplish when we partner and work together.”
– The Honourable Jim Carr, Special Representative for the Prairies
“TELUS is committed to ensuring that all Albertans, regardless of where they choose to live, can stay connected to the people and information that matter the most. Bridging digital divides is central to everything we do, so we are proud to be connecting 47 more rural communities in partnership with the Universal Broadband Fund. Last year, TELUS expedited capital investments from our previously announced $16-billion investment in Alberta to support the province throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including a specific focus on connecting rural and remote communities that require access to reliable, world-class networks. These investments, including those announced today, will ensure that Albertans in more remote parts of our province have equal access to the educational, health and economic opportunities that high-speed broadband provides.”
– Shazia Zeb Sobani, Vice-President of Customer Network Implementation, TELUS
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.
Applications to the Universal Broadband Fund closed on March 15, 2021.
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.