Governments Invest $252 Million to Bring High-Speed Internet to Southwestern Ontario

Published on August 06, 2021

Beamsville - The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on 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 is why the governments of Canada and Ontario are accelerating their investments in broadband infrastructure.

This week, Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, on behalf of Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Developmen, together with the Kinga Surma, Ontario's Minister of Infrastructure, highlighted a combined federal and provincial investment of $252 million to bring high-speed Internet to 60,000 rural Ontario households in Southwestern 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.

Communities to benefit in Niagara West include rural homes and businesses in the Town of Grimsby, Town of Lincoln, Town of Pelham, Township of Wainfleet and Township of West Lincoln.

"These investments will mean more access to high-speed internet for constituents in Niagara West," said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

"Since first being elected, I promised to advocate for investments in rural broadband, and this week's funding demonstrates that concrete action
is being taken for those living in rural parts of the riding. I will keep working with my provincial and federal counterparts to invest in rural broadband in Niagara."

"Broadband is critical infrastructure, and the pandemic has made this more apparent than ever," said Minister Chagger.

"Reliable highspeed Internet allows us to learn, attend school and work remotely, and it allows small businesses to serve customers."

"Our government is taking another step forward in its bold plan to bring high-speed Internet to every community in the province by the end of 2025," said Minister Surma.

"Our latest investment to make high-speed Internet accessible to more homes and businesses will make a positive difference in the lives of countless families and individuals in southwestern Ontario. By working together with our federal partners, we have achieved another important milestone in building a stronger, more connected, Ontario."

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 per cent of the way in its ambitious plan to achieve 100 per cent 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.

This week'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.