Government of Ontario News Release: Ontario Improving Internet and Cell Phone Service in Rural and Remote Communities
July 23, 2019 10:15 A.M.
News release source: Office of the Premier
LUCAN — Families and businesses in rural and remote communities can look forward to high-speed internet and better cell phone service, Premier Doug Ford announced today.
Joined by Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure; Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture; and Monte McNaughton, Member of Provincial Parliament for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex and Minister of Labour, Ford announced the province’s first-ever, $315 million plan to improve and expand service to help people stay connected, and open Ontario for business and jobs.
“Our government committed to help businesses, families, and farms stay connected – no matter where they live,” said Ford. “Too many families and businesses in rural and remote communities are being left behind. Open for Business has to mean Open for Everybody. Our investment will get shovels in the ground, get infrastructure built, and get people and business connected. With our plan, businesses, families and workers can count on an Ontario that will move faster than ever before.”
The plan includes a $150 million commitment for a new broadband fund, which will leverage private sector funding along with support from other levels of government, to drive investment and expansion to unserved and underserved communities. Ontario’s plan is expected to generate up to $1 billion in total investment over five years, resulting in new connections for up to 220,000 homes and businesses. This will lead to community, social and economic benefits well beyond the provincial investment.
“Too many people, especially those living in rural and remote communities, do not have access to reliable internet access,” said Scott. “It means they can’t work from home, stay connected to family and friends, or access public services such as health care and education. In our increasingly digital world, being disconnected means being disadvantaged. This must change.”
“Bringing broadband internet to rural Ontario is a win for everybody,” said Hardeman. “It helps kids with their homework, farms with their operations and businesses to grow and create jobs in their communities. I’m proud our government is making this important investment across the province.”
“Families in rural Ontario have waited too long for help getting better broadband,” said McNaughton. “Our government is taking action so families don’t have to drive to fast food restaurants or local libraries to get good wifi.”
- In the 2019 Ontario Budget, the provincial government announced $315 million over the next five years for broadband and cellular expansion.
- Ontario has committed $71 million toward the $213 million Eastern Ontario Regional Network project to improve cellular and mobile broadband in up to 99 per cent of the region where people live, work and travel.
- Ontario is supporting the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project in Southwestern Ontario, the Niagara Region and the Town of Caledon, committing up to $63.7 million in funding toward SWIFT’s total project costs of more than $190 million.
- Ontario is also addressing barriers to infrastructure expansion by maximizing the use of existing government assets and programs and modernizing government to cut red tape to encourage broadband and cellular expansion.