The president of the AMBM, Mr. Ivan Normandeau, issued this statement following the announcement of over $1 million in federal funding for high-speed Internet access in the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent:

This is a great day for the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent. Thanks to the Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), this proud bilingual and Métis community will soon be equipped with innovative Starlink technology.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend Reeve Cheryl Smith for her leadership and determination in bringing this project to a successful conclusion in collaboration with her municipal council and administrative team.

I would also like to acknowledge the work carried out by the Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities (CDEM) team throughout the process of obtaining this funding in support of the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent.

COVID-19 has highlighted the quality of life and the many assets of rural bilingual municipalities in Manitoba, including St. Laurent, but it has also increased their isolation. This reality is all the crueller for Francophone minority communities. It has been shown that the lack of access to information and resources in French greatly accelerates the rate of linguistic assimilation and propels the decline of French in Manitoba.

The pandemic has also transformed the way we live, work, learn and do business. More than ever, reliable high-speed Internet infrastructure is critical to the development of our rural bilingual communities to ensure that they have access to the same services, supports and opportunities as larger centres.

This state-of-the-art Internet technology will have a direct impact on the economic and social development of St. Laurent, while allowing for a significant increase in telecommuting jobs in this period of labour shortage.

We hope that this announcement by the federal government will be followed by several others in the near future with respect to projects in several other bilingual municipalities.

Expanding digital infrastructure in Manitoba’s rural bilingual municipalities is a top priority for the AMBM and its members. As evidenced in our Municipal Economic Recovery Strategy 2021-2024, ensuring reliable access to digital infrastructure in our rural and remote municipalities is the key to (re)building stronger, more competitive, and more resilient bilingual communities.

Information: Office of the Chief Executive Officer (O-CEO), 204-289-4077, [email protected].

Increasing connectivity in the Rural Municipality of Saint-Laurent