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Ontario commits to improving cell service and broadband provincewide

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Historic nearly $1 Billion Investment Will Support Unserved and Underserved Communities

MINDEN HILLS — The Ontario government announced today that it is investing nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province.

The $680 million being announced today is 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.

Details were provided ahead of the release of Ontario’s 2020 Budget by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure and MPP for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, and Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, at the local Haliburton County Public Library in Minden Hills.

“By providing high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved communities like Minden Hills, we will create good jobs, unlock new opportunities for businesses and people, and improve the quality of life for individuals and families,” said Premier Ford. “With the world online these days, if we are going to attract more investment to Ontario and compete in this highly competitive global marketplace, we need every part of our province connected with high-speed Internet.”

The investment announced today doubles funding for the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program, bringing the new total to $300 million. This program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario. As part of Ontario’s broadband and cellular action plan, ICON is one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario.

Over 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access, and as many as 12 per cent 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 Laurie 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. Ontario will release the 2020 Budget and the next phase of Ontario’s Action Plan on November 5, 2020.

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