OTTAWA, ON, Aug. 6, 2021 /CNW/ – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on our Internet connections, making access to fast and reliable Internet service even more critical. For too long, many rural Canadians have lacked access to high-speed Internet, impacting their ability to work, learn and keep in touch with family and friends. The pandemic has made addressing this divide even more urgent. That’s why the governments of Canada and Ontario are accelerating their investments in broadband infrastructure.
Today, Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedNor) and Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, and Anthony Rota, Member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development and Member of Parliament for Peterborough–Kawartha, together with the Honourable Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, and the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services and Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, on behalf of the Honourable Kinga Surma, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Etobicoke Centre, highlighted a joint investment of up to over $170 million to bring high-speed Internet to over 39,000 rural households in Northeastern Ontario.
This investment is being made as part of a joint federal-provincial agreement through which the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario have partnered to support large-scale, fibre-based projects that will provide high-speed Internet access to all corners of the province by 2025.
In addition, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is assessing opportunities proposed through the Universal Broadband Fund to provide additional financing on a project-by-project basis toward significant expansion of broadband in partnership with private and institutional investors.
Canada-wide, more than 890,000 rural and remote households are on track to be connected to high-speed Internet as a result of federal investments. At the end of March 2021, 175,000 rural and remote households had been connected to high-speed Internet under projects supported by the Government of Canada. By the end of this year, over 435,000 households will be connected thanks to support from the federal government.
This investment represents a concrete step forward that will move Ontario almost 40% of the way in its ambitious plan to achieve 100% connectivity for all regions in the province by the end of 2025. This investment builds on Ontario’s recently announced investment of up to $14.7 million for 13 new projects under the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program. This will provide up to 17,000 homes and businesses with access to reliable high-speed Internet and builds on a range of provincial initiatives under way that will connect another 70,000 homes and businesses.
Also part of Ontario’s plan to achieve 100% connectivity is a recently announced innovative procurement process that is being used to help connect the vast majority of the remaining underserved and unserved communities. Procurement under this delivery model, led by Infrastructure Ontario, will begin later this summer. Together, these initiatives are part of Ontario’s plan to help bring reliable high-speed Internet to more communities across Ontario.
Today’s announcement builds on the progress the governments of Canada and Ontario have already made to improve critical infrastructure in Ontario. This includes leveraging over $30 billion in federal, provincial and partner funding for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). This investment supports over 265 local transit projects; 140 projects in rural and northern areas; over 70 green infrastructure projects; and over 270 community, culture and recreation projects. Also, as part of ICIP, Ontario launched the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream with combined federal and provincial funding of $1.05 billion. This includes up to $250 million in federal and provincial funding for municipalities to address critical local infrastructure needs to improve health and safety.
“Our historic investments in broadband infrastructure are connecting rural communities across Northern Ontario and right here in the Riding of Sault Ste. Marie, helping to ensure more people have access to high-speed internet. The pandemic emphasized the need for universal access to broadband so our students can learn, families can stay connected, and our businesses can operate competitively. High-speed internet is critical to the success of our economic recovery today and economic development for our futures.”
– Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedNor) and Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie
“This is a great announcement for residents in Nipissing-Timiskaming and all over northern Ontario. Broadband Internet has been an essential tool for many years now and the COVID-19 pandemic has only further shown how much residents in rural communities need reliable access to high-speed internet. These commitments will ensure that our region will soon have access to those services so that our residents can work, learn, and keep in touch with their loved ones from home.”
–Anthony Rota, Member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming
“Having a reliable internet connection will help boost the economic prosperity of our communities and region. These projects in Nipissing are important steps forward in our government’s plan to connect every community in Ontario to high-speed internet by 2025.”
– The Honourable Vic Fedeli, Member of Provincial Parliament for Nipissing and Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
“Reliable high-speed internet is critical for individuals, families and businesses across Northern Ontario as many aspects of life are carried out online from banking to education to accessing health care. In response, our government, along with our federal partners, are making significant investments to expand and improve internet service to ensure communities large and small are connected provincially and throughout the world.”
– The Honourable Ross Romano, Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie and Ontario’s Minister of Government and Consumer Services
- Since 2015, Government of Canada investments have helped more than 175,000 rural and remote households across Canada gain access to high-speed Internet.
- The Government of Canada has committed $7.2 billion to broadband Internet infrastructure, including $2.75 billion through the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF).
- These investments will help ensure that 98% of Canadians will have high-speed Internet access by 2026, and 100% will have access by 2030.
- The Government of Ontario is helping to improve connectivity across the province. This is supported by a commitment of nearly $4 billion to ensure all Ontarians have access to high-speed Internet by the end of 2025.
- The Ontario government has invested in initiatives to improve connectivity across Eastern and Southwestern Ontario. It has also invested in high-speed Internet projects in rural and Northern Ontario, such as through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and the Next Generation Network Program.
- The Ontario government is also helping to speed up construction of broadband projects through the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021, which received royal assent this spring.
SOURCE Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada