The governments of Ontario and Canada are investing up to $180 million to help bring ultra-high speed Internet to homes and businesses across southwestern Ontario.
Canada and Ontario will each provide up to $90 million towards the total project cost of approximately $281 million.
London North Centre MPP and Ontario Deputy Premier Deb Matthews kicked off the announcement, which was made on July 26 at the London Roundhouse in front of federal and provincial representatives and municipal officials from the Forest City and across Elgin County.
“This is an important day, a historic day, when we actually bring all of southwestern Ontario together under that connectivity,” Matthews said. “This happens only when governments work together. That’s what’s happened today. It took us a little time, but here we are. We’re all in this together. We see the need and we’re filling that need.”
The investment is part of the new Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project, which will expand access to broadband by delivering fibre optic coverage to over 300 communities with a total population of 3.5 million — spanning counties and municipalities in southwestern Ontario, as well as Caledon and Niagara.
“The Government of Canada’s ongoing investments in broadband infrastructure are improving connectivity in communities across the country,” said Mississauga–Malton MP Naveep Singh Bains, federal minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “By providing better access to a wider variety of online tools and resources, we are increasing the potential for economic growth and diversification in these communities, and are helping the middle class and those working hard to join it.”
The project, according to a provincial media release, will help southwestern Ontario communities and businesses better compete in global markets, attract new jobs and improve quality of life.
It will also allow individuals to use online resources to gain skills and experience.
According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), a 10 percent increase in household broadband penetration could accelerate economic growth by up to 1.5 percent.
“Just as businesses depend on roads and electricity, high-speed Internet is fundamental to advancing the province’s economic interests,” said Allan O’Dette, OCC president and CEO. “We are encouraged by the government’s decision to prioritize investment in local community infrastructure, which is critical for economic growth in the digital age.”
Expanding high-speed Internet access is part of the Ontario government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs.
The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education.
“High-speed internet will connect people and businesses to the resources they need to compete in the global marketplace and strengthen our economy,” said Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Bob Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure. “Equipping people in the province with the tools they need to succeed is one of the ways we’re helping to build Ontario up.”