Saskatchewan

Canadian government announces $6.6 million for high-speed internet in rural Sask.

The government's goal is for 98 per cent of Canadians to have high-speed internet access by 2026, rising to 100 per cent by 2030. 

Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation, Beardy's and Okemasis Cree Nation to receive high-speed internet

Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation and Beardy's and Okemasis Cree Nation are set to receive high-speed internet by this fall. (Lauren Golosky/CBC)

The Government of Canada is investing nearly $6.6 million to bring high-speed internet to more than 2,500 households in rural Saskatchewan. 

The overall goal is for 98 per cent of Canadians have high-speed internet access by 2026, rising to 100 per cent by 2030. 

"We are ensuring that rural communities in Saskatchewan are no longer limited in accessing the services they need, simply because they lack reliable broadband connectivity," Dan Vandal, minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, said at a press teleconference on Thursday. 

Funding for the new Saskatchewan projects is allocated as follows: 

  • $2.4 million for FlexNetworks for a project benefiting the communities of Neuhorst, Bradwell, Shields, Thode and Neuanlage as well as rural areas near the village of Clavet.
  • $1.29 million for Prairie Crocus Rural Internet for a project benefiting the communities of Water Park Estates, Eagle Ridge Country Estates, Aberdeen and Shields.
  • $528,909 for Access Communications Cooperative Limited for a project benefitting the communities of Macklin and Shaunavon.
  • $458,271 for Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation.
  • $1.9 million for Beardy's & Okemasis' Cree Nation.

Minister of Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings said access is essential.

"The COVID 19 pandemic reinforced this," she said. "We had kids doing their homework around the kitchen table, people working from home, businesses trying to put their products online and frankly, just keeping in touch with friends and loved ones.

"The Band-Aid was ripped off the connectivity issue and brought to the forefront.

"However, for rural communities, including many in Saskatchewan, the lack of reliable internet made the difficulties of the pandemic even more profound."

The Saskatchewan locations are receiving the funding now because they are "shovel ready" and within budget. They were part of 1,900 applications to the federal government's Universal Broadband Fund. 

"They were $5 million and under to get out the door right away because we had to get Canadians connected quicker than ever," said Hutchings.

She said most of the projects announced will be connected by the summer and offering service by the fall.

Hutchings said other applicant approvals for high-speed internet will be announced in the coming months. 

"We also have $50 million allocated for mobile projects [across Canada] that primarily benefit Indigenous communities. And some of those have been rolled out already, and you'll see more of those," said Hutchings. 

"We need good connectivity, which equates to business growth and which equates to jobs in rural Canada."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura is a journalist for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. Laura specializes in health-care, arts, environmental and human interest coverage. She holds a master of journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at laura.sciarpelletti@cbc.ca

now