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Rural British Columbians to benefit from increased connectivity
August 6, 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’s (UBF) Rapid Response Stream, and the Connecting British Columbia program, Canada and the B.C. governments are taking immediate action to get people connected to the high-speed Internet they need.
Today, Terry Beech, Parliament Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North—Seymour, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, along with Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services, announced over $17.3 million in funding for 4 projects that will bring high-speed Internet to over 2,000 households in Cariboo regional district and in Indigenous communities of the Thompson-Nicola regional district in rural British Columbia.
The Universal Broadband Fund was launched in November 2020. The projects being announced today were approved within six months of the formal launch of the now $2.75-billion program. Projects funded under the UBF, the Connecting British Columbia program 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 British Columbia. Since 2015, the federal government has invested more than $2.2 billion in over 3,300 infrastructure projects in British Columbia communities with a population of fewer than 100,000 people. These investments mean 101 km of new or upgraded roads that are making our communities safer; more than 621 projects to provide residents with cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water; and more than 2,039 additional housing units built in rural communities, helping ensure all British Columbians have a safe place to call home.
High-speed Internet service is essential to the success of everyone living and working in rural British Columbia. Today’s investment will bring reliable, high-speed Internet access to over 2000 households in the Cariboo district and Indigenous communities of the Thompson-Nicola regional district, 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 $119 million to 31 connectivity projects in British Columbia, which will connect over 34,000 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.
– Terry Beech, Parliament Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North—Seymour
“Here’s in British Columbia, we are making record investments in connectivity infrastructure and seeing steady progress towards a future where people in rural and Indigenous communities will have the Internet access they need to share in the benefits of digital technology. By working with First Nations, the private sector and all levels of government and by investing in fast and reliable Internet access, we are opening doors and giving people more options within their home communities.”
– Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services.
“By supporting and investing in these kinds of partnership-driven connectivity projects, we help make life better for First Nations and rural communities across the province. Having access to fast, reliable internet helps provide people the tools they need to succeed and build strong and bright futures for themselves and helps our rural and remote communities thrive. Whether it is real-time virtual support in healthcare, remote educational opportunities, or anything between, these are critical investments for rural community vitality.”
– Roly Russell, B.C.’s Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development
“We welcome this funding because as our recent broadband connectivity study highlighted, faster, more reliable internet service is much needed across our region. It is crucial to the future of the Cariboo and Chilcotin that we have the connectivity needed to participate in the modern economy. Good service is also vital for our emergency response efforts. The greater our reach via electronic means, the more people we can contact when natural events such as wildfires threaten our communities.”
– Cariboo Regional District Chair Margo Wagner.
“This partnership with government will deliver upon our collective commitment to bridge digital divides and ensure more Indigenous and rural communities in British Columbia have the technology they need to fully participate in the digital economy. Our PureFibre network is the best Internet technology available today with symmetrical upload and download speeds, supporting local businesses and enabling people to live and work wherever they choose. With this new connectivity, residents will be able to work with large files at home while other family members can simultaneously be doing schoolwork, virtually connecting with healthcare practitioners, or streaming entertainment.”
– Tony Geheran, TELUS Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer.
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
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