• Stephen Lecce, MPP

Nearly 280,000 Ontarians to benefit from historic agreement to improve access to high-speed internet

July 30, 2021

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, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for University–Rosedale; the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development and Member of Parliament for Peterborough–Kawartha; the Honourable Kinga Surma, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Etobicoke Centre; and Dave Smith, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (Northern Development and Mines) and to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Member of Provincial Parliament for Peterborough–Kawartha, announced a historic agreement to bring high-speed internet to nearly 280,000 rural Ontario households in hundreds of communities across the province. Under this agreement, 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. This historic agreement is being made possible by an equal federal-provincial investment totalling more than $1.2 billion. 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.

Quick Facts

  • 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.

Quotes

"Broadband is critical infrastructure, and the pandemic has made this more apparent than ever. Reliable high speed internet allows us to learn, attend school and work remotely, and it allows small businesses to serve customers. But too many rural communities still do not have access to high-speed internet. Broadband access is critical for our country’s economic growth and recovery, and our government is committed to making sure no community is left behind. This investment, in partnership with Ontario and the Canada Infrastructure Bank, will connect nearly 280,000 rural Ontario households to high-speed internet. Our government will continue to work with all partners to connect as many households as possible, as quickly as possible, to this essential service." - The Honourable Chrystia Freeland Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for University–Rosedale "Access to high-speed internet will create jobs, improve health and safety for all, and help bridge the rural-urban divide. The pandemic added urgency to this work, and the Government of Canada responded with the Universal Broadband Fund. Our government’s investments to date have helped connect 175,000 households to high speed internet. By this Christmas, 435,000 households that didn’t have high-speed internet last Christmas will be connected. That number will grow to more than 700,000 by the end of 2022 and more than 800,000 by the end of 2023. The agreement announced today will help nearly 280,000 households in close to 900 communities in Ontario benefit from this essential service, including 8,700 households in Peterborough–Kawartha. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada, I would like to thank all our partners for their hard work. We won’t stop until every Canadian has access to high-speed internet." - The Honourable Maryam Monsef Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development and Member of Parliament for Peterborough–Kawartha "The CIB’s Growth Plan has a goal to invest $2 billion toward broadband connectivity across Canada to leverage additional capital from private and institutional investors. By collaborating through the federal Universal Broadband Fund and public sector partners, the CIB sees potential to finance large-scale projects in cooperation with internet service providers. The CIB is part of the solution to connect more Canadians faster." - Ehren Cory President and CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank "Our government is stepping up and delivering on our commitment to achieve 100% access to high-speed internet across Ontario. This investment will help bring faster access to high-speed internet to more families, individuals and businesses in communities across the province. We continue to work hard to ensure that all Ontarians, no matter where they live, can work, learn, start a business, access vital services like health care, connect with family and friends, and thrive in our digital world." - The Honourable Kinga Surma Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Etobicoke Centre "The investment we’re making today is one that will create incredible potential for our rural communities. Access to reliable high-speed internet across Peterborough–Kawartha and Eastern Ontario will support families and students and help foster our long-term recovery, especially in our rapidly changing economy." - Dave Smith Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Member of Provincial Parliament for Peterborough–Kawartha Additional Resources

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