Thunder Bay

Province reaffirms broadband funding for remote First Nations

The provincial government on Thursday reaffirmed $30 million in funding, previously announced by the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne, to bring reliable broadband internet service to five remote First Nations in Northern Ontario. 

The funding was previously announced in 2017 by the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne

Premier Doug Ford (second from left) reaffirmed a funding announcement made by the previous Liberal government two years ago to provide $30 million for five Matawa communities to receive reliable broadband internet service. (Matt Vis/CBC)

The provincial government on Friday reaffirmed $30 million in funding, previously announced by the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne, to bring reliable broadband internet service to five remote First Nations in Northern Ontario. 

Nibinamik, Neskantaga, Eabametoong, Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations combined "currently have less broadband capacity than a single customer in a typical urban area," said a government news release. 

The project will benefit more than 670 homes and institutions, the government said. 

Marten Falls Chief Bruce Achneepineskum said Friday could go down in history for the communities.

"Together in partnership, and now the firm commitment of Ontario, we will bridge that digital divide that separates us and we will succeed in doing so in a transformational way," said Achneepineskum.

Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford reaffirmed the funding at the Matawa Education and Care Centre in Thunder Bay, Ont.

"It brings everyone together," Ford said of the importance of internet and cellular connectivity. "It opens up so many opportunities for everyone, no matter if it's economics or school." 

The federal government previously committed up to $37.1 million, from the Connect to Innovate program for the project, while Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada invested $2.14 million. 

"This investment is welcomed by the Matawa First Nations involved in broadband development," said David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO of Matawa First Nations Management.

Achneepineskum said the communities are expected to be connected by the end of 2021. It was previously scheduled for completion in 2018.

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