Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and member for Mississauga—Malton. I thank the minister for the work he has done on the Internet access file over the past three and a half years. For the first time in the history of Parliament, we have a minister responsible for rural economic development. It is essential for our government to continue the work we are doing in rural areas.
I am pleased to rise to speak to the NDP motion on the accessibility of broadband Internet services for all Canadians. My riding of Nickel Belt covers 30,000 square kilometres, so I understand the importance of the Internet in rural areas.
Our government also understands the importance of broadband service. All Canadians must participate in today's digital economy. Whether it is our children when they are doing their homework, our friends, family or businesses, it is important to ensure that all Canadians have access to the Internet so we can remain competitive exporters.
The Minister of Rural Economic Development and I travelled across the country. We heard from Canadians living in rural and remote communities. The Internet is the engine of future growth and development in rural regions.
We recognize that rural, remote and northern communities face unique challenges when it comes to connectivity, which is why we launched the connect to innovate program in 2016, to bring high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities all across Canada.
This program received more than 900 applications across the country, requesting $4.4 billion of funding by the time the applications were closed. This oversubscription is a clear indication that the need exists in Canada for future investments in better connectivity. It is also an indication of the popularity of this program across the country.
This is why in budget 2019, we added top-up funding to the program connect to innovate. To date, a total of nearly $560 million in connect to innovate funding has been announced for 175 projects in 11 provinces and territories. They all cover projects in the future looking at all provinces and territories.
Further, this funding has also leveraged the private sector, and this is important. The government's role in the Internet in rural Canada is to ensure that we find ways to leverage private sector funding and funding from the provincial level. The provinces need to get engaged with the private sector, the federal government and municipalities in order to make sure that we get everyone connected.
Together with our partners, we expect that the connect to innovate program will deliver a total of over $1 billion of incremental investments in broadband projects, which is very significant. We have to talk about these investments. These projects will improve Internet connectivity to more than 900 communities and 190 indigenous communities. This is more than triple our original target of 300 communities.
These investments mean that about 1,100 anchor institutions in communities will benefit from new access to high-speed networks. This includes places like libraries, community event centres and band offices. These anchor institutions are key in communities to seek real improvements in connectivity when dealing with education, health and other needs in the community and the private sector. These investments are really important for growth in rural Canada and all across Canada.
Connectivity investments are impressive in the sheer scale of their geographic reach. Nearly 20,000 kilometres of fibre network has already been installed or is in the process of being installed. This is equivalent to the distance from St. John's to Vancouver through Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Labrador City and back to St. John's.
Further, individual Canadians will feel the impact of improvements in the services delivered to their homes. These projects will impact an estimated 380,000 homes. This is a huge investment in homes across the country.
Connect to innovate supports many of these great projects, and I would like to take a moment to highlight a few of them.
The Kativik Regional Government in Nunavik received $62 million in connect to innovate funding for new and improved high-speed access to all of Nunavik's 14 Inuit communities. This project will impact 28 institutions, including schools and health centres.
Tamaani Internet performed a detailed marine survey of fibre routes for Nunavik communities for the first undersea fibre optic cable deployment in Arctic Canada. It is now implementing this project.
Also, in northern Ontario, the connect to innovate program invested $39 million with five first nations communities. It is important to connect these communities. Looking at the importance of future mining development in the region with the Ring of Fire, this provides future economic development for these first nations communities.
As I mentioned, 190 indigenous communities are receiving support through investments made under the connect to innovate program. The indigenous communities themselves will manage these networks to make improvements throughout their communities.
The connect to innovate program has also had a very significant impact on rural Internet service providers. Not only will the connect to innovate investments help big Internet suppliers innovate, but one-third of these investments will go to small local suppliers who live and work in the small communities they serve.
Even with the progress made to date, we recognize that we need to do more work. That is why we have made the commitment to set a national target for 90% of Canadian homes and businesses to have access to high-speed Internet with at least 50/10 megabits per second by 2021, and 95% by 2026. No matter where they live, from coast to coast to coast, all Canadians will be able to access high-speed Internet.
To attain this goal, in budget 2019 we also established a new universal broadband fund of $1.7 billion, which will bring high-speed Internet to under-serviced communities. We are working on the parameters of this new fund, with more information to come over the next few weeks.
As previously mentioned, the new universal broadband fund will include a top-up to the connect to innovate program. It also includes funding to low-earth orbit satellites, next-generation satellites. That is significant and important, because we are looking at remote areas and the challenges we have with connecting Canadians all around.
The success of the connect to innovate program and the universal broadband fund demonstrate that our government has a high-speed Internet plan for people no matter where they live. It is important to look after the needs of rural communities across Canada.
We have a plan for the digital economy and we are working hard to carry it out.