Over $1.1 million in federal funding is supporting broadband, technology and workforce solutions in the region.
Anthony Rota, MP for Nipissing-Timiskaming, announced the bulk of the FedNor money, just over $1 million, will help improve connectivity and access to technology in the Nipissing-Timiskaming, Sudbury East, Manitoulin and Parry Sound East regions.
“There are two announcements,” he says. “One for Blue Sky Net who works with technology in making sure everyone in the area is as connected as possible and identifying where the holes are so everyone in the riding can participate.”
Blue Sky Net has been in operation since 2002.
“We’ve come a long way,” says Susan Church, Executive Director. “But in Northern Ontario we’re still not there.”
She says while larger centres are eyeing gigabyte speeds, the north is still looking to hit the national average of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) downloaded and 10 Mbps uploaded.
“It continues to be a struggle,” she says. “It’s about money. It’s about how you can make a business case when there are so few customers. That’s the problem in Northern Ontario.”
Geography is another issue. But Church says line-of-sight technology and towers have come a long way with reaching those 50:10 Mbps speeds.
Rota also announced over $76,000 is helping the City of North Bay develop and implement a workforce attraction and retention strategy.
“Where they can help employers get new employees and make sure that everyone is aware of what is available in the city,” he says. “It’s a pilot project so hopefully once it’s successful we can spread it right across the country.”
The city is working with several partners including the Labour Market Group, YES Employment, the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce and others.