Enhanced Broadband Access Coming to Rural and Remote Communities Across Canada

Minister Bains launches the Connect to Innovate program

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Access to broadband is essential for living, working and competing in a digital world. For Canadians in rural and northern regions in particular, access to high-speed Internet can unlock tremendous economic potential, leading to the creation of new jobs, products and businesses that will benefit Canadian middle-class families.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced the launch of Connect to Innovate, a new program that aims to bring broadband Internet access to 300 rural and remote communities across Canada. The program will invest up to $500 million by 2021 to ensure that rural and remote communities across Canada are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the digital age.

Connect to Innovate will help address the digital divide by primarily supporting new high-capacity “backbone” networks, with a portion of funding being used to upgrade existing backbone networks and provide “last-mile” connections. Building this infrastructure will give rural and remote areas access to the digital economy; it is the modern equivalent of building roads or railway spurs. These networks will support the digital needs of Canadian institutions, businesses and households well into the future.

Connect to Innovate was developed after extensive consultations with stakeholders, Internet service providers and Canadians. The program is designed to meet the needs of those living in rural and remote areas by bringing Internet access to institutions like schools, hospitals and First Nation band offices.

Additional backbone capacity could be used to provide users with access to speeds well above 5 megabits per second. Communities using new backbone infrastructure will see a transformative change in the speeds and services they can access. With improved mobile services, Canadian families, businesses and community organizations in rural and remote areas will be able to participate in the digital economy and access life-changing online services such as tele-education and tele-medicine.


“Our government is committed to ensuring that all Canadians, businesses and institutions have access to the opportunities and tools they need to grow and succeed in Canada and abroad. By increasing access to high-speed Internet, the Connect to Innovate program enhances our rural and remote communities’ ability to innovate, participate in the digital economy and create jobs for middle-class families. This investment will improve the daily lives of Canadians.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick facts

  • Budget 2016 committed to providing up to $500 million by 2021 to extend and enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities.
  • The Connect to Innovate program aims to bring access to high-speed Internet to 300 communities across Canada.
  • The deadline for applications for project funding is March 13, 2017.

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