Clark praises Ontario’s nearly $1 billion broadband investment
Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark has announced that the Ontario government is making an investment of nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province, including Eastern Ontario.
The government announced a $680-million investment earlier today, which is on top of the $315 million announced previously to support Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. This funding will be used for shovel-ready projects starting in 2019-20, will create jobs and connect unserved and underserved communities during COVID-19 and beyond.
“One of the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for our rural communities to have access to faster, more reliable broadband to work, attract new investment and jobs, help our businesses market their products to online customers across the globe, allow our children to learn and keep us connected to the digital world,” said Clark. “I am so proud that our government continues to make these critical investments and at historic amounts to deliver on the commitments I’ve made to improve the connectivity for the residents of Leeds and Grenville.”
Details of the new funding were provided ahead of the release of Ontario’s 2020 Budget on Thursday by Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott and Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board.
The investment doubles funding for the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program, bringing the new total to $300 million. The program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario.
As part of Ontario’s broadband and cellular action plan, ICON is one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario.
Over 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access and as many as 12 per cent of households in Ontario, mostly in rural, remote or Northern areas, are underserved or unserved from the perspective of broadband, according to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) data.
In October, the province released Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government. Improving access to broadband and cellular service is one of the initial projects. Through Ontario Onwards, the province will help make government services more efficient and the lives of people and businesses better. Yesterday’s announcement is another example of the government’s commitment to making Ontario the world’s leading digital jurisdiction.