Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson welcomes the news that the provincial government is investing $315 million to improve and expand high speed internet and better cellphone service in rural and remote communities.
“Our government is committed to bringing better connectivity to homes and businesses in rural and remote areas that have been left behind in this 21stcentury,” Thompson said, adding that the investment “will get shovels in the ground, get infrastructure built, and get people and business connected.”
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 Minister of Infrastructure Laurie 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.”
Thompson said the lack of high speed internet in some areas in Huron-Bruce is a common complaint heard at her constituency offices and from constituents, business owners, and local municipal representatives she meets with at various events.
“Not having better connectivity is not just a frustrating nuisance, it’s a barrier to economic development in the area,” she said. “And we are going to make it better.”
In the 2019 Ontario Budget, the provincial government announced $315 million over the next five years for broadband and cellular expansion and 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.
The Province 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.