Business & Policy
Better broadband service coming soon for rural Ontario
By Top Crop Manager
Ontario’s Government will fund the expansion of broadband internet into the southwest region of the province, announced Monte McNaughton, provincial infrastructure minister, on May 24, 2019.
The announcement means residents of Lambton County are one step closer to getting better high-speed internet, with the calls for bids from market players going out later this year.
McNaughton was joined by Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey 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.
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.
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.
“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,” added Keith Currie, president of Ontario Federation of Agriculture, in a media release.
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. For many in agriculture, it levels the playing field and allows rural businesses to take part in the digital economy.