Nearly $84 million in federal and other funding will help 112 rural communities in Manitoba, 48 of which are First Nations, gain access to high-speed internet.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development made the announcement alongside Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg Monday.

The money comes from Canada’s Connect to Innovate program that will invest $500 million by 2021 to connect rural and remote communities in Canada with high-speed internet.

Of the 112 communities, 21 are located in areas without year-round road access.

Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Jane Philpott, praised the fact that the investment targeted First Nations partners, adding it will give them the opportunity to create, and eventually own and operate, their own broadband networks. The service will also provide the communities with an economic boost, said Pallister.

Of the $84 million invested in Manitoba, $3.5 million will come from Indigenous Services Canada, $20 million will come as an in-kind contribution from the Government of Manitoba and $16.7 million will come from other contributors.

Companies receiving the federal funding to build high-speed infrastructure include Clear Sky Communications ($33.5 million), Valley Fiber Limited ($10.3 million), Bell MTS ($2.7 million) and Broadband Communications North ($673,000).Manitoba’s in-kind contribution is for Clear Sky Communciations to access Manitoba Hydro’s existing fibre optic cable network to deliver increased broadband connection to First Nations, as well as rural and northern Manitoba communities.

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