44 remote & rural First Nations to get faster internet in B.C. – fund announcement

Rural and remote communities in coastal British Columbia will benefit from faster internet

Through a combined investment of $45.4 million, the Government of Canada, in partnership with the Government of British Columbia, is bringing new or improved high-speed internet to 154 rural and remote communities, enabling residents to get online.

Of these 154 communities, 44 First Nations will benefit.

“To be global digital economy leaders today and tomorrow, we need to invest in our broadband infrastructure,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “By partnering with the federal government, First Nations, local governments and the private sector, we will give our rural communities the foundation to grow their economies with fast and reliable internet connections.”

The funding was announced by the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Sims, and Jennifer Rice, British Columbia Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Member of the Legislative Assembly for the North Coast, at Canada Place in Vancouver.

“Access to high-speed internet is not a luxury; it’s essential,” said Bains. “High-speed internet service is a basic tool that all Canadians should have access to, regardless of their postal code. Canadians need this service to do business, upgrade their education and build stronger communities. Thanks to our Connect to Innovate program, more Canadians will able to participate fully in the digital economy.”

“Broadband internet is critical to ensuring quick and reliable access to educational resources, economic development opportunities and telehealth services,” said Philpott. “The federal government is proud to partner with the Province, First Nations, local communities and the private sector to bring high-speed Internet to unserved and underserved communities, including 44 First Nations, in British Columbia.”

This investment will help residents of these communities connect with family and friends, do business online, participate in distance education and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the digital age. It will also help connect schools, hospitals, libraries and businesses to networks that are essential to their services.

“Connectivity is foundational to Indigenous peoples leading and thriving in a digital age,” said Denise Williams, executive director of First Nations Technology Council. “Projects such as this play an important role in addressing the urgent need to achieve full and equitable access, unlocking the potential of the digital domain for generations to come.”

“Reliable high-speed connectivity is critical for rural and remote communities to develop their business opportunities, services and community potential,” said Joel McKay, chief executive officer of Northern Development Initiative Trust. “The trust is incredibly proud to be a partner in the delivery of this program, supporting the investments the Province and Government of Canada are making in this infrastructure.”

Today’s investment includes new subsea fibre optic cable that will connect communities between Prince Rupert and Vancouver, as well as around Vancouver Island – a total of 3.5 million metres of cable. Thanks to this investment in high-capacity networks in remote and underserved communities, all British Columbians, including First Nations, will be able to fully participate in the digital economy.

Quick Facts:

  • Connect to Innovate is a program that aims to provide Canadians in underserved communities with access to high-speed internet by investing in backbone networks, upgrading capacity and extending access.
  • Of the $45.4 million invested in coastal British Columbia:
    • $22 million will come from the Connect to Innovate program;
    • $12 million will come from Indigenous Services Canada; and
    • $11.4 million will come from the Government of British Columbia, through the Connecting British Columbia program.
  • The organizations receiving funding are:
    • CityWest Cable and Telephone—$9.3 million from the federal government and $3.1 million from the Government of British Columbia to improve high-speed internet service for 23 communities and 97 institutions
    • Strathcona Regional District—$24.6 million from the federal government and $8.4 million from the Government of British Columbia to improve high-speed internet service for 131 communities and 63 institutions
  • The $45.4 million in funding is for backbone networks that will bring fibre optic cable to 154 communities, connect institutions and indirectly improve internet connections for an important number of households along the British Columbia coast.
  • The joint $45.4 million investment provides funding to two recipients – CityWest and Strathcona Regional District to install a new sub-sea fibre-optic cable from Prince Rupert to Vancouver with landings at multiple coastal communities along its route.
  • The Government of Canada’s Connect to Innovate program is investing $500 million to go toward building the digital backbone of high-speed internet networks. Backbone networks are the digital highways that move data in and out of communities. These highways carry large amounts of data that are essential for schools, hospitals, libraries and businesses to function in a digital world.
  • Connect to Innovate will also fund last-mile connections to households that do not have high-speed internet.
  • Connect to Innovate is part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class.

Learn More:

Follow Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on Twitter: @ISED_CA

Jo Whittier

British Columbia Ministry of Citizens’ Services
Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 387-0172

Karl W. Sasseville

Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
343 291-2500

Media Relations

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
343 291-1777

Andrew MacKendrick

Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services
819 956-5372

Media Relations

Department of Indigenous Services Media Relations
819 953-1160