Broadband Fund
You asked us! Questions and answers about the Broadband Fund

General Questions

What are the eligible project types for Call 3?

In this third call for applications, the CRTC will consider projects that:

  1. build or upgrade transport infrastructure;
  2. build or upgrade mobile wireless infrastructure to improve mobile connectivity along major transportation roads (as defined in section 14 of the Application Guide); and/or
  3. projects to increase satellite transport capacity (operational costs) in satellite‑dependent communities (as defined in section 14 of the Application Guide).

Note that the CRTC will not be considering access projects in this call for applications.

Can I submit an application that would draw from both components of the Fund, such as a project to cover satellite transport capacity (operational costs) to an eligible satellite-dependent community while I work to build transport infrastructure to that community?

Applicants may wish to propose a project that draws from both the main component and the satellite component (for example, an applicant proposing to build terrestrial transport infrastructure and to increase satellite transport capacity [operational costs only] in the interim for the same eligible satellite-dependent community must submit two separate applications). Applicants must file one application for the main component project and one application for the satellite component project, and should note in the project description that the two applications are related. However, the CRTC will consider these two projects to be complementary projects since they cannot be contingent on each other to receive funding from the Broadband Fund. When submitting the two different projects, applicants must ensure that they cross-reference one another in the project descriptions.

If my project is to provide mobile wireless coverage for an eligible major transportation road and requires transport capacity, what type of project should I submit – transport, mobile, or both? Or, should I submit two different projects?

To be eligible for funding, a project submitted to the Broadband Fund must meet all eligibility criteria of the project type(s) applicable to the proposal. For example, if the project is submitted as a combination transport and mobile wireless project, the transport portion of the project must meet all eligibility and assessment criteria for a transport project and the mobile wireless portion of the project must meet all eligibility criteria for a mobile wireless project.

An application also cannot be contingent on any other factors, such as (i) funding for another project proposal under the Broadband Fund, (ii) funding for another geographic area in a separate application under the Broadband Fund, or (iii) funding from another program that has not been secured at the time of the application. Therefore, applications that require both transport capacity and mobile wireless infrastructure should be submitted together as a combination transport and mobile wireless project.

The CRTC recognizes that mobile wireless projects may require additional backhaul in areas not eligible for transport projects in order to cover eligible major transportation roads. To that end, section 4.2 of the Application Guide states that mobile wireless infrastructure for an eligible mobile wireless project includes all equipment and material required to provide connectivity and mobility for devices along an eligible major transportation road.

If the project requires transport capacity specific for mobile connectivity in an area where there are no eligible transport communities, it should be submitted as a mobile wireless project. The CRTC will consider funding a reasonable amount of transport capacity in a mobile wireless application. Reasonableness will be assessed based on many factors, including the remoteness of the geographic location of the proposed mobile infrastructure and the length of roads that will benefit from increased mobile wireless service.

Applicants are expected to put forth their best proposal and are therefore encouraged to submit their project as the project type, or combination of project types, that (a) meets all associated eligibility criteria, (b) is not contingent on another project, and (c) will provide the greatest benefit to Canadians in the eligible geographic area(s).

Who is eligible to apply for Call 3?

In general, Canadian corporations of all sizes; provincial, territorial, and municipal government organizations; band councils or Indigenous governments; and any partnership, joint venture, or consortium composed of these eligible entities may apply for funding.

The applicant, or at least one member of a partnership, joint venture, or consortium must have at least three years of experience in deploying and operating broadband infrastructure of the same type as that submitted in the application, and must be eligible to operate as a Canadian carrier.Footnote 1 Should the applicant or the members of a partnership, joint venture, or consortium not meet this experience requirement, they must enter into a contractual arrangement prior to submitting their application with an entity that does. Applicants that enter into such an arrangement must provide details of (a) that contract and (b) any entities that are subject to that contract.

Note: Individuals, as well as federal government departments, agencies, boards, commissions, Crown corporations, and special operating agencies, are ineligible for funding from the Broadband Fund either as applicants, or as members of an applicant partnership, joint venture, or consortium.

What experience is required for an applicant to be eligible for funding from the Broadband Fund?

The applicant – or at least one member of a partnership, joint venture, or consortium – must have at least three years of experience in both deploying and operating broadband infrastructure in Canada, and must be eligible to operate as a Canadian carrier. Should the applicant – or the members of a partnership, joint venture, or consortium – not meet the experience requirement, the group applicant must enter into a contractual arrangement with an entity that does.

For the purpose of the Broadband Fund, deploying broadband infrastructure is defined as constructing and implementing broadband networks or infrastructure through which broadband services will be delivered. Operating broadband infrastructure is defined as managing, monitoring, and controlling existing broadband networks or infrastructure through which broadband services are being delivered.

Section 4 under Single Entity Applicant Details and Group Entity Applicant Details in the Instruction Manual provides details on the kind of proof the CRTC requires to assess the experience criteria.

The number of years of experience of an individual staff member who is part of an applicant partnership, joint venture, or consortium does not qualify as applicant experience; the experience must be that of the applicant, partnership, joint venture, or consortium itself.

What kind of proof does an applicant need to show that they have a minimum of three years of experience deploying and operating broadband infrastructure in Canada?

Applicants will need to describe their experience in a few sentences, including information on where and how long they have been deploying and operating broadband services, and the number of customers currently served. Section 4 under Single Entity Applicant Details and Group Entity Applicant Details in the Instruction Manual provides details on the kind of proof required for the CRTC to assess the experience criteria.

Can an applicant propose a project that will not be completed within three years of being awarded funding?

The CRTC expects applicants to complete their project within three years of receiving funding (except projects proposing to increase satellite transport capacity in satellite-dependent communities, which can receive up to five years of funding). However, the CRTC recognizes that some projects may take longer than three years. Accordingly, the CRTC will still consider applications for projects that require longer than three years. In such cases, it is recommended that applicants provide a justification for the longer project schedule in their applications.

Can I submit a project that is one of the eligible project types and also puts an additional focus on resiliency?

The CRTC is placing increased emphasis, during the assessment phase, on resiliency. When assessing all the projects submitted in response to this call, the Commission will use special increased weighting of the resiliency aspect of the Technical merit (2-P1) assessment criterion.

Accordingly, applicants can propose projects that put an additional and concentrated focus on increasing the resiliency of existing telecommunications infrastructure. For example, applicants could propose a project that:

  • upgrades or builds transport points of presence (PoPs) in eligible communities or, while providing wireless coverage on eligible major transportation roads, builds a redundant data path for existing transport infrastructure by (a) introducing geographic redundancy, or (b) creating a transport ring or loop; or
  • builds high-capacity transport infrastructure to establish a new or upgrade an existing PoP in an eligible transport community that is also a satellite-dependent community, thereby reducing or eliminating the community’s reliance on satellite transport capacity; or
  • replaces less resilient transport infrastructure with more resilient transport infrastructure, for example, by introducing fibre optic transport where only microwave transport exists, when upgrading the capacity at a PoP in any eligible transport community.

I am proposing a project to increase satellite transport capacity (operational costs) in satellite-dependent communities. How many years of funding should I request?

The CRTC recognizes that operational funding is a necessity for satellite-dependent communities. Considering the general uncertainty regarding the availability of alternatives to conventional satellite services, including uncertainty regarding the availability of low earth orbit (LEO) satellite services, applicants are encouraged to apply for five years of operational funding. The requested funding amount and/or duration, if approved by the CRTC, can be reduced in the future if it is no longer required.

Does my project proposing mobile wireless service coverage for an eligible major transportation road require a price commitment?

Call 3 is calling for applications to provide service to eligible major transportation roads. Applicants proposing a mobile wireless project are not required to propose service plans and prices, or comparator service plans and prices.

How do I start an application and what is an activation code or a GC Key? How do I obtain one?

To start an application for the Broadband Fund, you will need to obtain an activation code, also referred to as a GC Key, and log into “My CRTC Account” with the GC Key.

To obtain a GC Key, call our IT specialists at 1-866-893-0932 during their business hours, Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

For more detailed information, please refer to the Forms and My CRTC Account page.

What is a MAD number and what is the purpose of providing it?

A MAD number is the “Master Address Database” number used as the identifier in the CRTC’s data collection system (DCS). All telecommunications service providers in Canada must fill out data forms and submit them to the DCS annually. The Broadband Fund’s Application Form has a field where service providers can optionally provide their MAD number. The CRTC can use the information provided by the applicant in DCS to supplement the information provided in their application.

Note: If the applicant does not have a MAD number or does not want the CRTC to use the information in DCS for the purpose of their application, the applicant must indicate this as part of their Broadband Fund application.

How do I find my MAD number?

The MAD number is the number found in the Entity ID field in DCS. To find the Entity ID for your company, follow the instructions below. Upcoming updates to the Broadband Fund Application Form include modification of the field name from “MAD” to “MAD/Entity ID”.

To find your MAD/Entity ID:

  • Log on to the CRTC’s data collection system (DCS).
  • Open any form that appears under Application Form in DCS.
  • At the top, you will find the form’s title and number, under which you will find your company’s name (called an Entity Name).
  • Next to the Entity Name is your Entity ID – this is your MAD number that you can enter in the “MAD/Entity ID” field in the Broadband Fund Application Form.

Geography

What geographic eligibility criteria does the project need to meet for Call 3?

To be eligible for funding from this third call for applications, a project must serve an eligible geographic area anywhere in Canada. The CRTC has published an updated map outlining the eligible geographic areas for eligible project types for this call for applications. Please refer to section 5.3 of the Application Guide for geographic eligibility criteria.

The CRTC does not generally update service availability on its eligibility maps since that data is collected annually from the service providers as part of the CRTC’s Annual Facilities Survey. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) has a National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map in which it collects ongoing Internet service provider (ISP) and consumer feedback. This information is shared with the CRTC on a regular basis and helps to inform decision making.

The map and associated data sets on the CRTC’s website are current only as of the date of publication of the data, as indicated on the site. This map is to be used for reference purposes only, since upgrades to broadband services and network facilities may have taken place since that time. During the evaluation and selection phase of Call 3, the CRTC will use the most recent verified data available at that time. These data may constitute publicly available information announced by companies or governments, or information that the CRTC has collected in confidence.

Where does the data for your Call 3 Eligibility Map come from?

The CRTC has published an updated Call 3 Eligibility Map for eligible project types for this call for applications.

The CRTC conducts an Annual Facilities Survey through which it collects information on the recent state of broadband services and network facilities nationwide. The data shown in the Call 3 Eligibility Map is based on the processed information from the Annual Facilities Survey.

The CRTC may also rely on more recent information, whether public or confidential, as it is received and verified. Updated information on geographic eligibility may therefore be made available during the period between the launch date of this call for applications and the submission deadline. The map and associated data sets on the CRTC’s website are current only as of the date of publication of the data, as indicated on the site. This map is to be used for reference purposes only, since upgrades to broadband services and network facilities may have taken place since that time.

Applicants should verify whether (i) new broadband services or network facilities have been deployed since the date of publication of the data, making a geographic area no longer eligible; or (ii) new projects are under way in the target areas or will be under way within the proposed project’s time frame.

Applicants should therefore conduct their own due diligence, through research of available broadband services or network facilities and consultation with the relevant service providers and communities, to ensure that the geographic areas they are proposing to serve are eligible under the Broadband Fund. For example, applicants should consult Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map, the list of projects that have been announced to date under ISED’s Connect to Innovate and Universal Broadband Fund programs, and the list of selected projects under the CRTC’s Broadband Fund.Footnote 2 Applicants should also consult with provincial and/or territorial government broadband funding programs.

How often will you update the Broadband Fund eligibility map?

The CRTC will publish a map that depicts the eligible geographic areas at the launch of each call for applications. The CRTC may update the information on geographic eligibility if new information on coverage becomes available prior to the application submission deadline. These eligibility map changes, should they occur, will only be updated prior to the application submission deadline. No changes will be made to the map after that date. Applicants are responsible for monitoring the eligibility map prior to their application submission. It is recommended that applicants stay up to date on any changes to the map by signing up to the CRTC Broadband Fund’s RSS feed.

After the submission deadline, and while it is conducting application evaluations, the CRTC will use the most recent data available to mitigate the risk of overbuilding in a given area and to allow for the efficient use of funds across the country. As such, the CRTC will be conducting its evaluation and selection of applications based on the most current verified data available at that time. These data may constitute publicly available information announced by companies or governments, or information that the CRTC has collected in confidence (e.g. information collected in the CRTC’s Annual Facilities Survey and information provided by other government departments and agencies).

If an area has been served since the most recent facilities survey was completed, but it is still displayed as an eligible area on the map, is it still eligible for funding?

Once an area receives service at the minimum required levels for the type of project proposed, it is not eligible for funding. Refer to section 6.1.3(a) of the Application Guide for minimum required service levels for a transport project and section 6.1.3(g) of the Application Guide for minimum required service levels for a mobile project. Note that the eligibility map is for reference only. The CRTC may also rely on more up-to-date information, whether public or confidential, to verify and determine eligibility of the area of a project submitted for funding.

Applicants should therefore conduct their own due diligence, through research of available broadband services or network facilities and consultation with the relevant service providers and communities, to ensure that the geographic areas they are proposing to serve are eligible under the Broadband Fund. For example, applicants should consult Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map, the list of projects that have been announced to date under ISED’s Connect to Innovate and Universal Broadband Fund programs, and the list of selected projects under the CRTC’s Broadband Fund.Footnote 3 Applicants should also consult with provincial and/or territorial government broadband funding programs.

What is the Map of Communities and OLMCs? How do I use it?

The Map of Communities and OLMCs (official language minority communities) is a map that provides the location, including latitude and longitude coordinates, of every community and OLMC in Canada. Applicants should use this map to identify all communities that will or may be affected by a proposed project.

Note that the Map of Communities and OLMCs is not to be used to identify communities that are eligible for funding. Applicants must consult the Call 3 Eligibility Map to determine which communities or areas are eligible for funding for a given project type.

Also note that to determine if Indigenous groups or communities may be affected by a proposed project, applicants should consult the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Information System (ATRIS).

Technical

How detailed does my technical design need to be?

Applicants are reminded that they are expected to put forward their best proposal and provide the CRTC with accurate, complete, and realistic information based on their prior research and project planning activities. The design submitted in the application should demonstrate the detailed scope of the proposed project and include enough information for the CRTC to determine its eligibility and assess its technical merit, including feasibility, scalability, sustainability, and resiliency.

A complete and detailed design should demonstrate to the CRTC that the applicant will be able to realistically deliver the services and objectives of the project, including, where applicable and among others, stated point of presence (PoP) capacities, wholesale service offerings, broadband access offering, and mobile coverage. In addition, the project should demonstrate that it can realistically deliver on the obligations of the project, including wholesale open access in the case of a transport project.

See the Application Guide and Instruction Manual for more detailed descriptions of the eligibility and assessment criteria, and of the type of information the CRTC is requesting in order to evaluate those criteria. In addition, refer to section 17 of the Application Guide, titled “Common application errors to avoid”, for guidance on common issues the CRTC observed in submissions under its previous calls for applications.

According to the Application Guide, applicants must demonstrate consideration of supply chain security. What is supply chain security?

The supply chain includes the processes required to design, manufacture, and distribute equipment or other commodities, including information technology hardware and software. Supply chain security is the management of risk and threats, which can include anything from physical to cyber threats, while working with other organizations involved in the supply chain. A security compromise anywhere in the supply chain could allow a cyber threat actor to exploit a device or one of its components once it is connected to a company’s secured network. Supply chains can be compromised before or after the delivery of a product or service, during software updates, or during hardware upgrades.

Applicants are encouraged to refer to the materials on supply chain security published by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (the Cyber Centre). Applicants are also reminded of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s Policy Statement - Securing Canada’s Telecommunications System, published on May 19, 2022.

Applicants must demonstrate that they have considered supply chain security, particularly in their choice of vendors and equipment. The CRTC may consider overall cyber security, including supply chain security, when making its funding decisions. Applicants are also reminded that information regarding the proposed project provided in the application and attachments may be disclosed to the Cyber Centre to assist in the CRTC’s review of the project’s security risk.

Application Workbook

Why are the “Proposed Services” and “Comparator Services” tabs not available to complete?

The Application Workbook is dynamic, and certain tabs are made available based on the type of project that is selected in the Dashboard tab. For example, the Proposed Services and Comparator Services tabs are not relevant to transport and mobile projects, so applicants are not required to complete those tabs as part of their application.

What is a “project interconnection point”?

The project interconnection point referenced in the Application Workbook, as well as in the requirements for the logical network diagram and mapping information, is the point where the proposed project will connect to existing infrastructure. This point can be a central office, a tower, an access point, a PoP, a splice can, a manhole, or any other piece of brownfield infrastructure upstream of the proposed project.

As part of its evaluation of the project’s proposed design, the CRTC will assess whether the capacity supplied by or via the project interconnection point would be reasonably capable of meeting the capacity requirements of the proposed project.

Note that a single project can have multiple project interconnection points, depending on the scope and details of the project.

How do I download a copy of the “workbook” that is referenced in the Application Guide?

In order to download the Application Workbook, an application needs to be started through the Broadband Fund – Manage My Applications page.

Next, an online application form will need to be filled out through the “Complete an Application” web page (accessible once you start an application). Then, you will be able to click on the link to download the Application Workbook located in the blue box.

Financial

Where are the forms to submit company information (e.g. pro forma financial statements and cash flows) located?

The Broadband Fund requires applicants to fill out their company information using the forms supplied in the Application Workbook. To access the Application Workbook, you must log into your “My CRTC Account” and start a new application. Once in the application, you can download and/or follow the links to all important resources from the collapsible information box at the top of the page.

Is there a set percentage that an applicant should contribute to applicant funding?

There’s no limit to the amount of funding you can request, but you must invest an amount in your project that is more than a nominal amount given the nature of the project.

Are the capital costs associated with increasing the satellite transport capacity in a satellite-dependent community eligible costs?

Applicants can apply for funding only for operational costs related to increasing satellite transport capacity. The CRTC will not provide funding in Call 3 for any capital costs associated with increasing satellite transport capacity in a satellite-dependent community.

My company would like to propose a project to receive funding for operational costs to increase satellite transport capacity in a satellite-dependent community. To do so, we are required to provide supporting evidence for comparator service plans and prices. What kind of “supporting evidence” should be submitted?

Supporting evidence can include the following:

  • screen shots of the comparator service provider’s web pages;
  • comparator brochures or rate sheets; or
  • other documents that demonstrate that the comparator rates and comparator service packages provided in your Application Workbook were available in the market at the time you submitted your application.

Why is it necessary to propose at least one service package that is suitable for low-income households in the Application Workbook tabs “Proposed Services” and “Comparator Services”?

Projects that propose to increase satellite transport capacity (operational costs) in satellite-dependent communities are required to include a list of various residential broadband Internet access service packages, with rate, speed, and capacity levels that address different customer needs, including those of low-income households. These packages must include rates that are identical to or lower than those offered in Iqaluit, Nunavut, for reasonably comparable speeds and capacity.

The Commission promotes affordability and consumer interests, and also aims to further the telecommunications policy objectives set out in paragraphs 7(a), (b), and (h)Footnote 4 of the Telecommunications Act.

Applications that do not include a broadband Internet access service package that is suitable for low-income households will not meet the eligibility criterion Affordability (1-S2) for satellite-dependent communities.

How should financial projections be prepared?

Projections should include only estimates that are directly related to the project. Assumptions made in projections should also be considered within the context of the specific project. All proposed revenues, expenses, and cash flows from other services or from the normal course of the applicant’s business that are not directly related to the proposed project should not be included. Revenues, expenses, and cash flows from other services that are not directly related to the proposed project, for example, broadcasting services, will not be considered in the financial assessment of the project.

What happens if there is a low to negative profit margin for mobile and transport projects?

The Commission is aware that mobile projects (especially those proposing to build along side roads) will see negative profit margins without CRTC funding. The same can be said with respect to some transport projects.

Evaluation of the Financial viability (2-P2) assessment criterion has many aspects, with the NPV/IRR (net present value / internal rate of return) being only one portion of the evaluation. Company financial statements, risk assessment, business plan, etc., are also considered for a financially holistic view of the project.

Application status updates

Will any of the Call 2 applications be automatically considered for Call 3?

Applications submitted for previous calls for funding will not be considered for Call 3. If an applicant would like the CRTC to consider a previous application and that application is still eligible for funding, an updated application must be submitted for this call.

Will the CRTC be able to provide an application status update on a submitted Call 3 application?

Unfortunately, the CRTC is unable to update applicants on the status of their applications. As stated in section 5.5 of the Application Guide, to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly and have access to the same information, contact between the CRTC and applicants will be limited in the following way:

  • Prior to the application submission deadline, CRTC staff will not advise applicants on how to best present their applications or assist applicants with completing their applications. CRTC staff will, however, respond to clarification questions regarding the application process and the required information. CRTC staff will provide individual responses to applicants, and will regularly post answers to clarification questions on the CRTC’s website. To see those answers or to submit questions to the CRTC, please consult the Broadband Fund web page.
  • After the application submission deadline has passed, CRTC staff will generally no longer respond to questions from applicants. The CRTC may, however, request that an applicant provide clarification or correct inadvertent errors, deficiencies, or omissions in the application, as well as file supplementary information or documents, through requests for information. See section 13 of the Application Guide for further details on the application process.

Applicants will not be informed of the status of their applications. Funding recipients will be announced in decisions to award funding to the project (funding decisions) that will be published on the CRTC’s website. The CRTC will make a general statement to notify applicants when it has made all the funding decisions for this call.

Applicants can stay up to date on the CRTC’s funding decisions for Call 3 by subscribing to the RSS feed or by checking out the Projects selected for funding page.

Community consultation

How is the assessment of community consultation different for Call 3?

The CRTC is placing increased emphasis on community consultation in Call 3, as compared to the previous two calls for applications. The CRTC will be holding applicants to a higher standard with regard to community consultation, in terms of both eligibility and qualitative assessment.

To be eligible for funding under Call 3, an applicant must provide evidence that it has consulted or attempted to consult with all communities affected by the proposed project, either directly or through community representatives, for example, in the case of Indigenous communities, at the band council or Indigenous government level.

If a project presents a risk of an adverse impact on an established or asserted Indigenous or treaty right, a constitutional duty to consult and accommodate may arise. Other obligations to consult with Indigenous people may arise by statute or pursuant to a treaty. Applicants must indicate whether their proposed project will adversely impact any established or asserted Indigenous or treaty rights. An adverse impact may be triggered by a project being built on land subject to an asserted or established Indigenous or treaty right. Applicants must conduct all necessary consultations and demonstrate how they will address any potential adverse impacts.

Applicants are encouraged to communicate early, openly, and directly with potentially affected Indigenous groups to inform them of the proposed project. If a risk of potential adverse impact on Indigenous or treaty rights is identified, the applicant is required to provide details of how it has consulted or will consult with affected Indigenous communities to develop an appropriate resolution.

If a duty to consult has arisen, any consultations related to an identified established or asserted Indigenous or treaty right that may be adversely affected by a proposed project must be fulfilled prior to the CRTC’s approval of the Statement of Work.

In addition, the CRTC will assess projects that affect Indigenous communities through a reconciliation lens. Applications affecting Indigenous communities should include evidence of meaningful engagementFootnote 5 with those affected communities. In order to be meaningful, engagement should be undertaken early, openly, and respectfully. Affected communities must be given the opportunity to learn about the project and communicate any concerns they may have. Demonstrated responsiveness to those concerns and evidence of collaboration with affected communities will be viewed favourably.

Further, proposed projects that provide opportunities for economic and/or employment benefits to Indigenous communities will be viewed favourably. The CRTC considers such benefits to be consistent with the objective of supporting reconciliation with affected Indigenous communities.

Finally, when selecting projects for funding, the CRTC will give special consideration to whether the communities to be served by proposed projects include Indigenous communities or official language minority communities (OLMCs). In doing so, the CRTC will consider whether proposed projects would fulfill (i) the economic and social requirements of Indigenous communities or OLMCs, consistent with the policy objectives set out in paragraphs 7(a), (b), and (c) of the Telecommunications Act; and (ii) the Government of Canada’s commitment in the Official Languages Act to support and assist in the development of English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada.

What does community consultation mean?

Applicants must consult or attempt to consult with each community affected by a proposed project to notify the community about the project, provide details of the project, and provide the community with the opportunity to communicate feedback directly to the applicant and to the CRTC.

Applicants are encouraged to provide evidence of support from each community affected by a proposed project, and to work collaboratively with affected communities to identify potential community benefits that go beyond the provision of broadband Internet access services.

Meaningful consultation entails approaching communities early, openly, and respectfully. Communities should have the opportunity to communicate specific priorities and identify any concerns associated with the project.

Consultation may be carried out through, for example,

  • a telephone call;
  • a virtual meeting;
  • an in-person meeting;
  • a notification letter; and/or
  • a presentation made to community representatives.

Community support may be demonstrated through, for example,

  • letters of support from community representatives;
  • a resolution from a local governing body, for example, a municipal resolution or a band council resolution;
  • evidence of a community benefit agreement;
  • the use of local companies during the project implementation;
  • an agreement to train community residents; and/or
  • investment (financial or otherwise) by the community in the project.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to be proactive in commencing their consultation efforts. If applicants require direction as to whom they should contact or how, applicants should contact the community representative by telephone to obtain the necessary guidance. Applicants are reminded that, in some cases, contact by email is not appropriate.

How do I know if my project will affect an Indigenous community or group? How should I consult with an affected Indigenous community or group?

To determine if Indigenous groups may be affected by a proposed project, applicants should consult the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Information System (ATRIS). ATRIS is a web-based information system intended to map out the location of Indigenous communities and display information pertaining to their potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights. ATRIS provides a thorough User Guide through its “Help” function.

ATRIS will assist applicants in identifying any treaties, claims, or assertions in place in a proposed project area, as well as whether any consultation protocols are in place. Applicants may also use ATRIS to obtain contact information for any potentially impacted Indigenous communities or groups.

Applicants should note that a proposed project could adversely impact Aboriginal or treaty rights even if the project is not proposing to directly serve an Indigenous community. For example, a transport network could cross through an area subject to potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights. Applicants are encouraged to take a generous and expansive approach to identifying potentially impacted Indigenous groups.

If a proposed project presents a risk of an adverse impact to an established or asserted Aboriginal or treaty right, a constitutional duty to consult and accommodate may arise. As the rights holders, the affected Indigenous groups are best positioned to identify any adverse impacts to Indigenous or treaty rights that may result from the project. Similarly, the affected Indigenous groups are best positioned to advise on potential accommodation measures. Applicants are therefore required to engage or attempt to engage with potentially affected Indigenous groups at the application stage in order to identify whether any risk of an adverse impact to an Aboriginal or treaty right exists.

Even if the constitutional duty to consult does not arise, the CRTC considers it to be consistent with its commitment to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada for applicants to demonstrate meaningful engagement with potentially affected Indigenous communities and/or groups.

Such consultation must, at the very least, include notification to the community of the proposed project and an invitation for the community to communicate any comments or concerns it may have to the applicant and the CRTC.

If you require additional assistance, the Consultation and Information Service at Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada provides information on ATRIS content and on the location and nature of potential and established Indigenous and treaty rights. The service can be reached using the following email address: indigenous.consultations.autochtones@canada.ca.

What if ATRIS identifies overlapping rights holders? Who should I contact?

Applicants should attempt to contact all rights holders that are identified by ATRIS as having Indigenous or treaty rights in the area of the project. Contacting all rights holders is ultimately a benefit to all, since it notifies rights holders of the proposed project and provides an opportunity for them to engage in a dialogue with the applicant regarding the proposed project. As a result of this dialogue, the applicant (a) should avoid adversely impacting an Aboriginal or treaty right, and (b) may receive important information that may help to improve the proposed project.

Applicants can contact Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada for any questions concerning ATRIS using the following email address: indigenous.consultations.autochtones@canada.ca.

What if my project will be constructed in existing utility rights-of-way? Do I still need to engage with Indigenous communities in the area?

Out of respect for all rights holders, applicants should attempt to contact all Indigenous communities in the area regardless of whether a project will be constructed in existing utility rights-of-way, in order to notify rights holders of the proposed project and provide an opportunity for those rights holders to engage in a dialogue with the applicant regarding the proposed project.

Does every single community impacted by a project need to be consulted?

Yes, to be eligible for funding from the Broadband Fund, an applicant must provide evidence that it has at a minimum attempted to consult with all communities affected by the proposed project, either directly or through community representatives at the provincial, territorial, and/or municipal level, or in the case of Indigenous communities, at the band council or Indigenous government level. The CRTC will evaluate favourably applications that include evidence of successfully conducted consultations with all their affected communities.

To assist applicants in consulting with affected communities and to provide such communities with the means to directly contact the applicant and/or the CRTC, the CRTC encourages applicants to use the community consultation template letters provided on the landing page of the Broadband Fund Application Form, or the information provided in those letters, including the contact information for the CRTC. Applicants are not required to use the template letters. However, when applicants first reach out to affected communities or groups, they should, at a minimum, (a) identify the proposed project and provide a mechanism for an affected community or group to provide feedback, and (b) provide the CRTC’s contact information so that applicants can directly contact the CRTC if they wish to do so.

I am unable to provide the documents related to community consultation by the application deadline for Call 3. What should I do?

Applicants must consult or attempt to consult with each community affected by a proposed project. Applicants should attempt to consult with affected communities on a respectful and best-efforts basis. However, it is understood that responses may not be received from all affected communities by the submission deadline. Applicants should strive to, as best as possible, notify affected communities of a proposed project and keep lines of communication open if representatives of an affected community wishes to discuss the project with the applicant.

For Call 3, the CRTC is providing a confidential process for applicants and communities affected by a proposed project to file additional community consultation documents directly with the CRTC after the application deadline has passed (see section 16.3 of the Application Guide). This is intended to accommodate the reality that meaningful consultation takes time and may not be completed prior to the application deadline.

Note that this process is confidential in the same manner that the application process is confidential. Any additional community consultation documents received after the application deadline has passed will not be available to the public. However, any community consultation documents submitted by representatives of an affected community directly to the CRTC pursuant to this process will be shared with the applicant if members of the affected community did not submit a copy of the document to the applicant.

For applicants:

Applicants can file evidence of community consultation with the CRTC, after the application deadline has passed, using the Broadband Fund email address provided to the applicant in the community consultation template letters and in the confirmation email each applicant receives upon successfully filing an application. Applicants that use this process must, in addition to the additional evidence they are filing, provide (a) the applicant’s name, (b) the project name used by the applicant, and (c) the confirmation number provided in the confirmation email.

The CRTC will add any additional evidence of community consultation received to the relevant application.

For affected communities:

Communities affected by a proposed project can also contact the CRTC directly. To facilitate this, when an applicant initially notifies communities affected by a proposed project, it should provide those communities with (a) the Broadband Fund email address, and (b) the mailing address of the CRTC, both of which are provided in the community consultation template letters.

The CRTC will add any additional evidence of community consultation received to the relevant application and will notify the applicant when any new evidence is received, although affected communities should also include the applicant when sending any evidence directly to the CRTC.

What if I cannot find contact information for community representatives?

Most communities have a website that will provide contact information for community representatives. For Indigenous communities, ATRIS is an excellent resource for contact information for representatives. The “Profile” of each Indigenous community typically provides an address, a phone number, and a contact name and title that applicants can use.

If possible, applicants could call a representative community member to briefly explain the proposed project, and ask for a contact for future correspondence. This form of contact may be a particularly effective and respectful way to identify the appropriate person(s) to contact.

What kind of evidence of community benefits is the CRTC looking for? Why?

The CRTC is looking for any sort of community benefit that the applicant and an affected community have agreed to as a result of the proposed project, above and beyond the provision of improved broadband Internet access services. The CRTC considers that agreements providing additional economic and/or social benefits to affected communities, for example, revenue sharing or employment opportunities, would represent evidence of consultation between applicants and affected communities, and would be assessed favourably.

For projects that affect Indigenous communities, the CRTC will assess such projects through a reconciliation lens. Accordingly, the CRTC considers that proposed projects that provide economic and/or employment benefits to Indigenous communities would be consistent with reconciliation with affected Indigenous communities, and will be viewed particularly favourably.

Still Have Questions?

If you have any additional questions related to the Broadband Fund, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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