Investment will help rural residents take part in the digital economy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 22, 2019
SIMCOE — Ontario’s Government is funding expansion of broadband internet into the southwest, Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton announced today, as he unveiled a key piece of the province’s budget commitment to improve people’s connections, no matter where they live.
The announcement means residents of Norfolk County are one step closer to getting better high-speed internet, with the calls for bids from market players going out later this year.
“I’ve heard too many stories about parents sitting in fast food parking lots or going to the local library to get Wi-Fi for their kids’ homework,” said McNaughton. “We want rural residents and businesses to be able to stream high-speed internet from their homes, farms and businesses. It’s time smaller communities across the province joined the digital economy.”
McNaughton announced that the government has committed up to $63.7 million to Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT), a not-for-profit corporation initiated by local municipalities to address connectivity in the region. SWIFT projects will be delivered with support from other levels of government.
““For years I’ve heard people in our area complaining about poor internet service,” said Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett. “Today we’re doing something about it. This is going to help individuals, families, farmers and businesses.”
The investment is part of a $315 million commitment the provincial government is making to ensure communities across Ontario have access to high-speed internet and better cell phone service, fulfilling a campaign pledge.
“I’m proud to say we are keeping our commitments by investing in things that matter to people,” said McNaughton. “Better broadband service is coming to Norfolk County.”
McNaughton was joined by Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett and Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Ernie Hardeman for the announcement.
“Affordable broadband connectivity is essential in rural Ontario to allow families to stay in touch, connect businesses with the world, and ensure Ontario is open for business and open for jobs,” said Minister Hardeman. “Our government made a commitment to bring high-speed internet connectivity to the people of rural Ontario. Today, we’re taking the next step in that commitment.”
With better access, people can work remotely, access e-commerce platforms, learn online and research at home. People can also access health care and government services and stay connected to friends and family. Better internet means businesses will be able to connect to customers and new markets, making it easier to share information, close deals and process payments.
- Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is a not-for-profit corporation initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, a group of 15 municipalities. SWIFT is focused on improving connectivity in Southwestern Ontario, Caledon and the Niagara Region. The project is delivered with support from Ontario and other levels of government.
- Ontario is supporting the SWIFT project in southwestern Ontario, committing up to $63.7 million in funding toward SWIFT’s total project costs of more than $190 million.
“Reliable high-speed internet is vital to the success of our farms and the well-being of families across Ontario. For too long, it hasn’t been available. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture applauds the Ontario government for making a priority of this and any other initiative that helps solve this problem.”
– Keith Currie, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
“Access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet has become a top priority for our region, its residents, business owners and our youth. Today’s announcement is a great example of government and community leaders working together to create new opportunities for innovation, advancement and economic development in rural Ontario.”
– Mitch Twolan, Vice Chair, Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology
“Dedicated investment in broadband and cellular networks is good progress. People need to be connected to participate in today’s economy – broadband is a key part of Ontario’s infrastructure, especially for the many rural and northern communities that lag behind urban centres.”
– Jamie McGarvey, President, Association of Municipalities of Ontario
“We are pleased by the government’s investment in critical broadband and cellular infrastructure in Southwestern Ontario. Access to high-speed internet is a basic requirement of the 21st century economy, much like roads, bridges, and electricity.”
– Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce