The British Columbia government says an $830-million investment will provide high-speed internet access to every part of the province by 2027.
Citizens’ Services Minister Lisa Beare announced the five-year commitment Tuesday, saying roughly 115,000 households in rural, remote and Indigenous communities in B.C. still do not have the same high-speed digital access as urban centres.
The $830-million cost will be shared equally by the provincial and federal governments.
“This joint record investment of $830 million between the federal and provincial governments means many First Nations communities will have high-speed internet access for the first time – advancing true, lasting and meaningful reconciliation and self-determination,” Beare said in a joint statement with B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon.
The ministers described the announcement as “years in the making” and a key part of the province’s long-term economic plan.
“The StrongerBC Economic Plan addresses two long-standing challenges: inequality and climate change, and this action will ensure businesses throughout B.C. have equal opportunity to participate in the economy,” said Beare and Kahlon.
“Connectivity provides a life-changing opportunity to connect more people and businesses with the services and supports they need to succeed and compete in a global economy.”
The ministers added that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of connectivity for well-being and economic growth.
“By giving everyone access to high-speed internet, we will level the playing field for more British Columbians, providing better access to jobs, education, training, health care, and so much more,” they said.
Beare told reporters Tuesday the government would help provide full connectivity to the province by investing in telecommunications infrastructure, including fibre-optic cable and low-orbit satellites.
Gudie Hutchings, Canada’s Minister of Rural Economic Development, said the investment is a step towards fulfilling the federal government’s target of connecting 98 per cent of Canadians to high-speed internet by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030.
“We need to close the connection gap and ensure that every nook and cranny of British Columbia has access to reliable high-speed Internet — from Masset to Keats Island, from Dease Lake to Lillooet, or from Hendrix Lake all the way to Port Alice,” Hutchings said.
“That’s why today’s Canada-B.C. broadband partnership of up to $830 million toward connecting all remaining rural households in the province is a historic milestone for British Columbians,” she added.