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Ontario investing nearly $1 billion to expand and improve broadband and cellular access

Contending it will help farmers run their businesses more successfully, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is lauding a new provincial government investment to improve internet and cellular access in the province.

Earlier this week, Queen’s Park announced an additional investment of $680 million on top of $315 million announced last year to help bring high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved areas of the province – something the OFA has long sought.

In a release today, the OFA said the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized a gap in coverage and future need for broadband expansion, as it has left businesses pivoting to virtual marketplaces and youth learning in virtual classrooms. In such an environment, access to fast, reliable broadband internet is vital to the success of Ontario’s farm businesses and rural communities, it said.

“We’ve advocated strongly for better broadband access and this announcement will be greatly welcomed by the farming community as it will enable farmers to successfully run their businesses without infrastructure limitations,” said Keith Currie, OFA President.

Over 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access, and as many as 12% 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. 

"This investment will connect even more residents in communities across Ontario to faster, more reliable Internet and cell service," said Minister Scott. "Today's commitment to connect more people to reliable broadband and cellular service ― along with many others we've made ― will make it easier for more people to work and learn from home, run their businesses and connect with others."

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. Today's announcement is another example of the government's commitment to making Ontario the world's leading digital jurisdiction.

"Improving Access to Broadband and Cellular Services is a signature project of the Ontario Onwards Action Plan to make vital programs and services more convenient, more reliable, and more accessible," said Minister Bethlenfalvy. "At present, 1.4 million Ontarians lack access to broadband services that meet the CRTC's minimum service standards, many in rural and northern areas. Today, we are ensuring more people and businesses can have safe and secure online access to the programs and services many of us already enjoy."

Building on Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the province's $30 billion response to the pandemic, the government remains committed to making available the necessary resources to protect people's health, and support people and employers. Ontario will release the 2020 Budget and the next phase of Ontario's Action Plan on November 5, 2020. 

For more information:
Ontario Government

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