Unified Communications Featured Article

Canada Works to Shrink Digital Divide

December 19, 2017

Canadian government officials have been working to bridge the digital divide.

Ontario’s government has been funding an online learning center in Parry Sound in the province. And the Government of Canada in October allocated more than $4 million to improve Ontario’s high-speed internet access.

A Dec. 15 article Metroland Media Group Ltd. reports that folks in remote regions of Ontario now have access to online education and resources through the facility in Parry Sound.

Contact North/Contact Nord, which is funded by the Ontario government, operates the online learning center that is populated with broadband-connected computers and conferencing solutions. It has partnered with Ontario’s public colleges, universities, training outfits, district school boards to promote and recruit students for its online programs in small, remote, rural, indigenous, and Francophone communities in Ontario.

YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka Employment and Learning Services are among the training partners. It provides basic skills and literacy courses through the center.

The center and its partners provide residents with access to more than 1,000 online programs and more than 18,000 online courses. They are available at no cost to users. More than 4 million Ontarians in 600 communities leverage the services of Contact North/Contact Nord.

As for the Government of Canada funding, that was given to Bell Canada. The communications services provider will use the government funds to build a new fiber optic backbone. That network, to which the telco will invest $1.3 million, will serve Stratton, Minahico, Madsen, the Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, the Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing, and Kejick (Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First Nation).

“Backbone networks are the digital highways that move data in and out of communities,” the Government of Canada explained in making the new funding announcement. “These highways carry large amounts of data that are essential for schools, hospitals, libraries, and businesses to function in a global and digital world.”

This government funding is part of the Canadian government’s Innovation and Skills Plan. The government says that’s “a multi-year strategy to create well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.” The government also has a Connect to Innovate program, which is providing funding to establish last mile connections to households that lack internet access of at least 5 megabits per second.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz