Feds, Ontario Drop $22 Million to Expand Rural Internet in Ontario

In a bid to ensure universal access to reliable high-speed internet, the federal government and Ontario have announced significant investments for underserved communities across the province. The move is part of a broader initiative to bridge the digital divide and foster economic development in rural areas.

Jennifer O’Connell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, alongside Amarjot Sandhu, Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, and Lorne Coe, Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby, unveiled a combined federal and provincial funding of over $22 million.

This funding is aimed at the Regional Municipality of Durham to facilitate high-speed internet access to more than 1,400 homes in ten communities including Ashburn, Columbus, Courtice, Greenbank, Leaskdale, Manchester, Myrtle Station, Raglan, Sunderland, and Uxbridge.

The project is a continuation of an existing partnership between Ontario and Canada. On July 29, 2021, the governments announced a Canada–Ontario broadband partnership to support large-scale, fibre-based projects that will provide high-speed Internet access to more than 280,000 homes across the province. This historic agreement was made possible by a joint federal-provincial investment totalling more than $1.2 billion.

The announcement is a significant step towards the federal government’s goal of ensuring that 98% of Canadians have access to high-speed Internet by 2026, and 100% by 2030. It also brings the Government of Ontario closer to achieving its goal of bringing reliable high-speed Internet access to every community in the province by the end of 2025.

Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development, emphasized the importance of internet connectivity, stating, “Internet is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity.” She highlighted the government’s commitment to working with partners to achieve connectivity targets and ensure that every Canadian, no matter where they live, has access to high-speed Internet, in another boilerplate statement.

Vianet, in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Durham, will serve as the Internet service provider for this project, bringing high-speed Internet access to more than 1,400 homes in the communities of Ashburn, Columbus, Courtice, Greenbank, Leaskdale, Manchester, Myrtle Station, Raglan, Sunderland, and Uxbridge.

Canada’s Connectivity Strategy aims to provide all Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload. The Universal Broadband Fund, a $3.2 billion investment by the feds, is designed to help provide high-speed Internet access to 98% of Canadians by 2026 and achieve the national target of 100% access by 2030.

The Ontario government is investing nearly $4 billion to bring access to reliable high-speed Internet to every community across the province by the end of 2025. This is the largest single investment in high-speed Internet in any province, by any government in Canadian history, it says.

As of July 2023, Ontario has finalized agreements totalling more than $2.3 billion for nearly 200 high–speed Internet and cellular projects across the province.

Another day, another internet investment by the federal government in its bid to bring high-speed internet to all. Let’s hope they are able to stay on target–and on budget.

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