The Canadian Internet Registration Authority has awarded $1.25 million CAD in grants to several projects aiming to improve high-speed internet access in underserved communities.
The funding is going to 20 projects that will help improve internet infrastructure, digital literacy, and cybersecurity for students, Indigenous communities, and rural and northern areas.
CIRA notes the number of Canadians working from home has grown seven-fold amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlights the importance of reliable connections.
One of the projects receiving funding will work with local Indigenous and rural youth in five small communities in northern Ontario to train them to set up and operate free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Another program in northwestern Ontario with the Couchiching First Nation community is going to focus on leading a study on options for high-speed fibre optic connectivity to improve internet access for 800 residents in the area.
Further, the Siksika Health Services in southern Alberta plans to use the funding to upgrade the internet infrastructure in five central community buildings to provide high-speed internet to its youth, elders and staff.
CIRA outlines that 85 percent of the 20 funded projects benefit students, 65 percent will help Indigenous communities, 50 percent benefit rural communities and 35 percent will aid northern communities.
“The challenges presented by this pandemic have made safe, high-quality internet access more important than ever,” said Byron Holland, the president and CEO of CIRA, in a press release.
CIRA’s Community Investment Program has awarded $7.95 million across 171 projects to date.