TURKEY POINT – Canada and Ontario are delivering on their commitment to create even more economic and educational opportunities in rural, remote and underserved areas of the province through an improved, modern broadband network in Southwestern Ontario. Today, the province celebrated the first customers to receive high-speed internet in Norfolk County through the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project.
Parliamentary Assistants Randy Pettapiece and Toby Barrett marked the occasion at an event on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ernie Hardeman.
Construction of the infrastructure network between Walsh, Normandale and Turkey Point in Norfolk County is expected to be completed December 2020. This project is valued at more than $2.1 million, with the governments of Canada and Ontario each having committed more than $690,000 in support.
The contracts to expand high-speed fibre-optic broadband services in Norfolk County were awarded by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc, a not-for-profit corporation initiated by local municipalities to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario.
“Reliable broadband infrastructure is crucial to ensuring the success of all residents in Southwestern Ontario,” said Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development. “This includes members of rural communities who have been calling for this change. Equality of opportunity is what is at stake and the federal government is committed – through collaboration on the SWIFT project – to making that outcome a reality for all Canadians.”
“In addition to the federal contribution to the SWIFT project, we invested to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023 through the Connect to Innovate program,” said Tim Louis, Member of Parliament for Kitchener—Conestoga, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development. “Work is underway every day and in the next 18 months, we will connect 250,000 of these households. Our ambitious plan is working because we are working with our partners at the community level. We are about to open new calls for proposals to connect 100% of Canada’s communities to reliable, quality internet access. Our number one goal over the coming months will be supporting high quality plans and applications from every community who needs better access. Together, with partners like those involved here in Norfolk County, we will achieve universal internet access so that geography does not determine any Canadian’s access to essential services, working from home and connecting with their loved ones. Congratulations to all the partners involved in this project by SWIFT!”
“I’m so proud to announce the first customers that will receive high-speed internet service in Norfolk County, said Parliamentary Assistant and MPP for Haldimand—Norfolk, Toby Barrett”. “Access to broadband has become crucial for so many people in our community, and today’s announcement is a step in the right direction for residents and businesses in Norfolk County.”
“Today, having access to high-speed broadband internet is essential,” said Parliamentary Assistant and MPP for Perth-Wellington, Randy Pettapiece. “It means that residents in our community can continue their education through online learning, continue to access critical medical services remotely, or continue to run businesses, and keep staff employed, from their homes. Our government’s investment in Norfolk County will help connect families and businesses and create new opportunities.”
“SWIFT is delivering on it’s commitment to expand broadband service across Southwestern Ontario with the project moving at an accelerated rate to get shovels in the ground and residents online,” said David Mayberry, SWIFT Board Chair. “Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to closing the digital divide. We are proud of this achievement and are grateful for the ongoing support we have received from the governments of Ontario and Canada, as well as from our municipal partners, that have made this infrastructure investment possible.”
The governments of Canada and Ontario recognize how important rural broadband access is for individuals, families and businesses. Work continues to bridge the gaps in broadband access in Southwestern Ontario, as part of a combined investment of more than $191 million to bring fast, reliable internet to thousands of homes and businesses.
Creating more ways to strengthen rural economies is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario together. Reliable and affordable broadband internet will allow communities to attract new development, strengthen local economies and create more well-paying jobs and opportunities in rural Ontario.
- The governments of Canada and Ontario are each contributing more than $63 million to SWIFT through the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – Small Communities Fund of the Investing in Canada plan.
- SWIFT Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario that will support the critical expansion of broadband to underserved areas.
- The Ontario government is making a historic investment of nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province. On November 4, Ontario announced $680 million on top of the $315 million to support Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. This funding will create jobs, and connect unserved and underserved communities during COVID-19 and beyond.
- The Ontario government will continue to expand access to broadband and cellular service through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON). It has doubled its investment in the program to $300 million. This multi-year program aims to support approved projects as early as 2021.