The governments of Canada and Ontario 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 federal and provincial governments 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.

“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,” stated Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. 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.”

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 caof 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 investment will help bring faster access to high-speed internet to more families, individuals and businesses in communities across the province,” added Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma. 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.”

Also part of Ontario’s plan to achieve 100 per cent 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.

“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,” said Ehren Cory, president and CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Featured image: Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

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