Governments of Canada and Ontario invest $230 million to bring high-speed Internet to central Ontario

News release

August 6, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario

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 Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors and Member of Parliament for King–Vaughan, 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 Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care and Member of Provincial Parliament for Ajax, on behalf of the Honourable Kinga Surma, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, highlighted a joint investment of up to $230 million to bring high-speed Internet to as many as 52,866 rural Ontario households in central 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 bring high-speed Internet to everyone 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 build 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.

Quotes

“The pandemic underscored how high-speed Internet is essential for connecting Canadians, yet many still cannot access it. Today’s investment will connect households in almost three hundred communities in central Ontario to modern broadband. The Government of Canada will continue to work with our partners to connect as many households as possible, as quickly as possible—fueling growth and opportunity in rural communities.”
– The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors and Member of Parliament for King–Vaughan

“Expanding access to broadband across the York Region has been a priority for our government for many years. We are pleased to see the Government of Canada recognize the importance of connectivity in today’s world, and support the vital role that our local service providers play in better serving and connecting our thriving communities for years to come.” 
– Tony Van Bynen, Member of Parliament for Newmarket–Aurora

“Our government is working hard to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, can take part and thrive in a digital world, which is why we are working to connect every community in Ontario to high-speed Internet by the end of 2025. The projects we are announcing today will provide high-speed Internet access for an additional 50,000 homes and businesses, allowing them to better access vital online services, connect with family and friends, and support our growing economy.”
– The Honourable Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care and Member of Provincial Parliament for Ajax, on behalf of the Honourable Kinga Surma, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure

“As we prepare for Ontario’s economy to come back stronger than ever from COVID-19, high-speed Internet will be critical for our long-term prosperity. The pandemic has accelerated the shift toward the digital marketplace, and for many businesses, especially small businesses in rural Ontario, having a reliable online presence is non-negotiable. People in Ontario have demonstrated so much resilience and co-operation over the past 18 months, and they expect and deserve the tools to keep their businesses competitive, access information, and maintain connections with friends and family.”
– The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and Member of Provincial Parliament for Pickering–Uxbridge

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 Government of Ontario 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 Government of Ontario 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.

Contacts

Canada

Marie-Pier Baril
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
613-295-8123
Marie-Pier.Baril@cfc-swc.gc.ca

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
343-291-1777
mediarelations-mediasrelations@ised-isde.gc.ca

Ontario

Hayley Cooper
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure
437-233-3224
hayley.cooper@ontario.ca  

Sofia Sousa-Dias
Communications Branch
Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure
437-991-3391
sofia.sousa-dias@ontario.ca

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