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.