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Lead Story: Expanding High Speed Internet Service

Many Simcoe-Grey residents will benefit from the recent news from the Federal and Provincial levels of Government announcing a combined investment of $54 million to bring high-speed internet access to more than 20,000 homes in 83 communities across Ontario.

This announcement represents the next step in an ongoing process that will see the Ontario government is invest nearly $4 billion to bring access to reliable high-speed internet to every community across the province by the end of 2025, representing the largest single investment in high-speed internet in any province, by any government in Canadian history.

It is critically important that all Canadians have access to reliable high-speed internet, no matter where they live.

On July 12, 2023, the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister of Public Service and Procurement, on behalf of the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development, together with Paul Calandra, Member of Provincial Parliament for Markham–Stouffville, on behalf of the Honourable Kinga Surma, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, announced $54 million in combined federal and provincial funding to bring high-speed internet access to over 20,000 homes in 83 underserved communities across Ontario.

The Honourable Gudie Hutchings Minister of Rural Economic Development said the internet is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. “Today’s announcement is a significant milestone for internet connectivity in rural Ontario. Working with Rogers, we will help connect more than 20,000 underserved homes in 83 rural and remote communities in Ontario. Our government will continue to work side by side with our partners to achieve our connectivity targets and ensure that every Canadian, no matter where they live, has access to high-speed internet by 2030” Minister Hutchings added.

“Reliable, high-speed internet is critical for Ontario residents to connect with friends and family and access health and education services, and for businesses to grow and serve their customers. We are proud to work alongside the Government of Canada to address connectivity gaps and bring high-speed fibre internet to more than 20,000 homes and businesses in Ontario ” said Robert Dépatie, President and Chief Operating Officer, Residential and Business, Rogers Communications.

“This is great news for residents of the under served communities in Simcoe Grey and throughout Ontario and is part of this Government’s ongoing commitment to bring access to reliable high speed internet to every community across the Province by the end of 2025” said Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson.

Many Simcoe-Grey communities are included, as listed below:

Acton, Alliston, Alton, Angus, Anten Mills, Ballinafad, Ballycroy, Barrie, Baxter, Baywood Park, Beeton, Belfountain, Bolton, Bond Head, Borden, Brown Hill, Caledon East, Caledon Village, Camilla, Campbells Cross, Cedar Mills, Cedar Valley, Cheltenham, Claremont, Coldwater, Colgan, Connor, Cookstown, Craighurst, Cundles, Elba, Elmvale, Erin, Everett, Everton, Fergus Hill Estate, Ferndale, Forest Home, Garafraxa Woods, Glencairn, Goodwood, Hillsburgh, Hillsdale, Horseshoe Valley, Inglewood, Ivy, Lakeview, Leaskdale, Lincolnville, Lisle, Loretto, Midhurst, Minesing, Mono Centre, Mono Mills, Mono Road, Moonstone, Mount Albert, New Wasaga Beach, Orangeville, Oro Lea Beach, Oro Park, Orton, Palgrave, Phelpston, Prices Corner, Rosemont, Sandford, Sandhill, Schomberg, Shanty Bay, Siloam, Simcoeside, Stouffville, Tamarac Estates, Terra Cotta, Thornton, Tottenham, Udora, Uxbridge, Warminster, Woodland Beach, Zephyr

screen shot of Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson’s website news feed story on the Standing Committee on Justice Policy Bill 41

This commitment is in addition to federal and provincial funding announced in March 2023 of over $48 million to connect over 3,800 homes in 31 communities in the Regional Municipality of York to reliable high-speed internet access.

Ontario Interactive Online Map

Ontario launched a new interactive online map that shows where provincially funded high-speed internet projects are planned, are currently under way or have been recently completed in communities across the province. Ontarians can use the map to search by address, community or municipality to learn about projects happening in their area and find out where high-speed internet service is currently available.

In 2021, Ontario passed the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021 to help speed up construction of high-speed internet projects. To build upon this legislation, the Ontario government passed the Getting Ontario Connected Act, 2022, which further reduces barriers, duplication and delays.

Left-to-right: Rogers employee, Rogers employee, Marnie Miron, Sr. Director, Service Expansion, Rogers. Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson, Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen, Rogers employee, former Simcoe County Warden George Cornell. New Tecumseth Mayor Richard Norcross and Clearview Deputy Mayor, Paul Van Staveren

The July 12, 2023 announcement follows an earlier announcement In November 2022. At a press conference held in New Lowell, the governments of Canada and Ontario announced they were each investing more than $1.7 million to bring high-speed internet access to more than 1,645 families, farms and businesses in Simcoe County.

At that time, Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson thanked Minister Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ontario Government for showing great leadership and prioritizing critical infrastructure like enhanced internet services to support rural communities. “Our residents and businesses will see great benefits from improved internet access, and I will keep working to ensure high-speed internet service is available to every corner of Simcoe-Grey” Saunderson added.

The contracts to increase access to high-speed internet in Simcoe 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. More than $255 million has been invested by the governments of Canada and Ontario and the private sector to bring high-speed internet access to more than 63,000 homes and businesses in Southwestern Ontario through SWIFT.

“Building and improving critical broadband infrastructure is key to promoting sustainable economic growth and social well-being in our small and rural communities across Southwestern Ontario,” said Gary McNamara, SWIFT Board Chair. “Together with our community partners, SWIFT is pleased to mark the completion of two high-speed internet projects in Simcoe County. Collectively these projects are now providing 1,600 additional homes and businesses with access to high-speed internet service and with these newly established fibre-optic networks now in place, we move one step closer to a more connected Southwestern Ontario.”

Today, 93.5 per cent of Canadian households have access to high-speed internet, compared to just 79 per cent in 2014. As of July 2023, Ontario has finalized agreements adding up to more than $2.3 billion for nearly 200 high-speed internet and cellular projects across the province.