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Governments of Canada and Quebec invest $94 million to connect more than 18,200 households in Quebec to high-speed Internet by September 2022

Press Release

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

July 21, 2021 – Kahnawake, Quebec

The governments of Canada and Quebec are announcing a joint investment of $94 million to support projects led primarily by co-operatives, non-profit organizations and local businesses. This investment will enable over 18,200 additional households to access high-speed Internet services by September 2022.

The announcement was made today by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food; the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services; Gilles Bélanger, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier (high-speed Internet); and Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs. Also present for this announcement were Jacques Demers, President of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités and Reeve of the Memphrémagog RCM; Kameron Lahache, Director of Operations at First Nations Wireless, and Michel Bertrand, President of the Coopérative de solidarité du Suroît (CSUR), two of the Internet service providers involved in projects funded under Phase II of Operation High Speed.

Co-operating with telecommunications companies and organizations, adding a deadline with penalties to new contracts and providing coverage for all homes in the region where projects are being undertaken will ensure quick and effective deployment.

Quotes

“This investment will enable the connection of over 18,200 additional Quebec households to high-speed Internet. Gains on the employment, health and safety, and economic development fronts can be expected. Think of the single moms who are working from home and helping their kids with online learning, the entrepreneurs who are moving their business online, and the farming families who are innovating and ensuring our food security. Our government will continue to work with all partners to connect as many households as possible, as quickly as possible, to this essential service.”

– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

“Quebec’s rural communities need access to a reliable Internet connection and to digital broadband services. By investing in these projects under Phase II of Canada–Quebec Operation High Speed, we are once again contributing to bridging the digital divide, while stimulating economic growth and the creation of good jobs in our regions.”

– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of having high-speed Internet to connect with our loved ones everywhere in Quebec. That’s why our government is investing jointly with the Government of Quebec in community-led projects, including here in Kahnawake, under Phase II of Canada–Quebec Operation High Speed. These investments build on our government’s efforts to ensure everyone has access to the essential infrastructure they need—high-speed Internet—no matter where they live.”

– The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

“Today’s announcement is the result of ongoing collaboration with the municipal sector and regional Internet service providers. At least 35 separate Internet service providers are currently working to deploy a reliable and efficient network. For all Quebecers to have high-speed Internet access in the near future, everyone has a role to play. All players—large and small—need to pitch in to meet the challenge.”

– Gilles Bélanger, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier (high-speed Internet)

“I’m particularly proud to launch such a major project from the Kahnawake community and to confirm $5.1 million in government funding. The pandemic has shown us that having a reliable high-speed Internet connection has become essential. It’s not only a means of keeping in contact with loved ones but also a powerful economic driver. This project is a fine example of collaboration between the community and the Government of Quebec. It also encourages Indigenous entrepreneurship and builds wealth within the community.”

– Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs

“I’m delighted that high-speed Internet will be deployed to more than 2,800 households on the Kahnawake territory. Internet has become a necessity to inform and bring together our communities. It’s an important economic development tool for our regions. This investment is key to building the Quebec of tomorrow.”

– MarieChantal Chassé, Member of the National Assembly for Châteauguay

“We’ve been working on the high-speed Internet project for a long time in the riding of Soulanges, and we’re proud to finally be able to announce this good news. I’m happy to see that an esteemed organization like the Coopérative de solidarité du Suroît is committed to seeing this project through to completion.”

– Marilyne Picard, Member of the National Assembly for Soulanges

“I thank the governments, and especially Gilles Bélanger, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier, for recognizing the level of commitment of elected officials and of RCMs that have launched high-speed Internet projects in their regions and for supporting them in carrying out those projects. It’s another step toward fulfilling the commitment to offer this essential service to all Quebecers by September 2022.”

– Jacques Demers, President of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités, Mayor of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley and Reeve of the Memphrémagog RCM

“First Nations Wireless is honoured and proud to participate in Phase II of Operation High Speed, which will provide the Kahnawake community with critical high-speed Internet access. During the pandemic, Internet use has changed radically within our community. Connecting our families, workers, students and businesses has always been our prime motivation and the driving force behind our innovation effort. We’ll have these key principles in mind when building our fibre optic network, which should be completed in September 2022. A new digital era is on the horizon, and we’re certain that this project will strengthen our community, our culture and our identity through connectivity.”

– Kameron Lahache, Director of Operations, First Nations Wireless

“The Coopérative de solidarité du Suroît’s teams are already hard at work in the field since the announcement of the Régions branchées phase. We are proud to contribute to the collective effort to quickly provide all Quebecers with access to high-speed Internet. The government’s financial support is without doubt an important factor in the growth of the Connec-T Network. It will allow us to offer this service ahead of schedule!”

– Michel Bertrand, President of the Coopérative de solidarité du Suroît (CSUR)

Quick facts

  • Canada–Quebec Operation High Speed will give Quebec the highest connectivity rate in Canada, at more than 99%.
  • The Government of Canada has allocated billions of dollars to Internet infrastructure in rural and remote regions, including $2.75 billion as part of the Universal Broadband Fund, of which $1 billion comes from Budget 2021.
  • To date, the Government of Quebec has invested more than $1 billion to accelerate high-speed Internet connectivity for all Quebecers by fall 2022.
  • Phase II of Operation High Speed provides for an investment of $94 million to support deployment projects by the Coopérative de solidarité du Suroît (CSUR), the Table d’action en communication et technologies de l’information de la MRC de Coaticook (TACTIC), First Nations Wireless, Développement Innovations Haut-Richelieu (IHR Télécom), Xplornet, Bell, Cooptel and the Association pour la télédistribution et radio La Minerve, as well as those of the Antoine-Labelle, Argenteuil, D’Autray, Matawinie and Montcalm RCMs.
  • The 18,200 households that will be connected under Phase II are in addition to the 150,000 households covered in the March 2021 announcement and the approximately 66,000 households already covered under other government programs.
  • To reach the goal of optimal connectivity in all the regions by 2022, approximately 18,200 households, for which no projects are planned, will still need to be connected. These households are in areas that are particularly difficult to reach and sparsely populated. Technological solutions are currently being considered, and the strategy chosen to reach these households by 2022 will be announced at a later date.

Contacts

Marie-Pier Baril
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
613-295-8123
[email protected]

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
343-291-1777
[email protected]

Alexandra Roy
Political Attaché
Office of the Premier
819-212-0459
[email protected]

Anne-Hélène Couturier
Public Relations Advisor
Ministère du Conseil exécutif
581-994-2663 (cell)
[email protected]

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