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$1.8-billion satellite project in Quebec expected to create 600 jobs

MONTREAL — Deal will see MDA build antennas for Telesat at its manufacturing facility in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, in Montreal’s West Island. Telesat will set up a network operating centre in Gatineau. The satellites will also be built in the province.

The agreement is part of Telesat’s Lightspeed project, which aims to deploy 298 satellites in low Earth orbit — around 1,000 kilometres above the ground — and provide access to high-speed internet in remote regions.

The agreement in principle announced Thursday between MDA, Telesat and the Quebec government is valued at $1.8 billion — with $450 million coming from the provincial government in the form of loans and investments.

The companies and the government say the deal could result in the creation of up to 600 jobs.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says the new jobs will pay an average of $100,000 a year.

Legault says that with Quebec’s traditional aerospace industry struggling, the deal will help the sector.

“Because of what’s happening with the pandemic, the next few years will be tough for aircraft, so it’s a good opportunity to diversify in satellites,” Legault says.

Daniel Goldberg, the president and CEO of Telesat, said the company was attracted to Quebec by its highly educated workforce and aerospace industry experience.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021.

With files from Julien Arsenault in Montreal.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press