The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on connections. Now, more than ever, everyone needs reliable access to high-speed Internet as we work, learn and communicate 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, the Government of Canada is taking immediate action.

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, announced the first project to be funded under the UBF Rapid Response Stream. The Minister announced funding of $1 million for Netago Internet to bring high-speed Internet access to 7,179 underserved households in Starland County and Stettler County, Alberta, by November 15, 2021.

The $1.75 billion Universal Broadband Fund was launched on November 9, 2020. Reflecting the need to move quickly to address connectivity, the UBF also includes the Rapid Response Stream, which makes up to $150 million immediately available for ready-to-go projects that can be completed by November 15, 2021. This streamlined process is helping projects that are ready to move forward in the short term to receive quick approval so construction can start as soon as possible and more Canadians can be connected faster. The project being announced today was approved less than six weeks after the formal launch of the program.

To help support applications for projects like this one, the UBF also provides a pathfinder service for all applicants, particularly those who need more support to build partnerships, find potential sources of funding and navigate the application process. This will ensure that the UBF can support the needs of all applicants, particularly smaller applicants such as municipalities or Indigenous groups.

Projects funded under the UBF, 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.