Federal, Ontario and Canadian Infrastructure Bank officials made the joint announcement at the Selwyn Public Library’s branch in the village of Bridgenorth, just north of Peterborough.
Gudie Hutchings, federal minister of rural economic development, and Amarjot Sandhu, parliamentary assistant to Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma, said the combined funding of $56 million will support three high-speed internet access projects by Cogeco and Bell Canada.
The Cogeco project is set to be completed by March 2024, and Bell’s between March and December 2025.
Among the projects includes an area stretching from Lakefield to Fenelon Falls. The announcement impacts 51 central/eastern Ontario communities.
The projects are part of federal-provincial government funding totalling more than $1.2 billion which was announced in July 2021 to provide high-speed internet access to more than 280,000 homes.
Hutchings noted the project is also part of the Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund, a $2.75-billion investment which aims to have 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet by 2026 and 100 per cent by 2030.
“We all know that internet is no longer a luxury in this day and age — it’s a necessity,” Hutchings said. “Access to fast, reliable internet helps rural Canadians by levelling the playing field to access essential services like healthcare and education, participate in the digital economy, or simply connect with loved ones.
“Our government will continue to work side-by-side with our partners to achieve our connectivity targets and ensure every Canadian, no matter where they live, has access to high-speed internet by 2030.”
The Government of Ontario says the projects will follow through on its commitment to bring reliable high-speed Internet access to every region of the province by the end of 2025. The province has committed over $ 950 million to nearly 190 projects to date.
“Our government is building a stronger Ontario by delivering on our commitment to achieve 100 per cent connectivity across the province by the end of 2025,” Sandhu said.
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“These projects will expand high-speed internet access to more unserved and underserved communities across Eastern Ontario, and they will ensure Ontarians have the ability to learn, work, participate in the agriculture sector, access critical health services and connect with loved ones.”
Ehren Cory, CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, said it is committed to expanding broadband service in Ontario.
“Our investment will help finance essential infrastructure for residents, create new economic opportunities and support public services,” Cory said. “A tremendous opportunity exists to expand broadband networks by collaborating with internet service providers and the CIB is part of the solution to connect more Canadians.”
Matt Wickham, Cogeco’s vice president and general manager of customer experience and business-to-business, said connecting communities online is a “top priority” for the company.
“That’s why we are proud to partner with the governments of Canada and Ontario to bring our world-class high-speed internet to more residents and businesses in the areas of Greenhurst-Thurstonia, Omemee, and Pleasant Point,” he said. “We are proud to be your local connection.”
Bruce Furlong, Bell Canada’s senior vice-president of networks, said the company is “proud to partner” with the federal and provincial governments to expand its all-fibre broadband network to more communities across Ontario.
“Through our own fully funded investments and through partnerships like this, Bell continues to deliver on our purpose to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world,” Furlong said.
Canada’s Connectivity Strategy aims to provide all Canadians with access to internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download / 10 Mbps upload.
Earlier this year, Ontario’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Infrastructure Ontario signed contracts with eight internet service providers to bring high-speed Internet access to up to 266,000 homes and businesses across as many as 339 municipalities through the Accelerated High-Speed Internet Program.