The Ontario government is investing $10.9 million to bring faster broadband to several towns and First Nation communities across Northern Ontario. By investing in improved internet access, Ontario is helping to bridge the digital divide and create more economic opportunity for residents and businesses in the North.
"Now more than ever, residents in Northern Ontario and across the province need access to faster, more reliable broadband service," said Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure. "Our investments will make it easier for people to work and learn from home, run their businesses, access vital services and connect with others."
Ontario's investments will help:
- build infastructure that brings high-speed broadband to more areas in Chisholm, Marathon, Terrace Bay, rural Thunder Bay and Oliver Paipoonge
- construct a new 22-kilometre fibre backbone network that brings high-speed broadband to Seine River First Nation, Couchiching First Nation, Rainy River First Nations, Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation, Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation and Big Grassy First Nation; and
- upgrade the speed and capacity of the K-Net network, owned by Keewaytinook Okimakanak and which serves more than 80 First Nation communities, while supporting future upgrades.
This investment is part of Up to Speed: Ontario's Broadband and Cellular Action Plan and will bring faster internet to more than 7,000 households and businesses across the North.
On November 4, 2020, the Ontario government announced an investment of $680 million on top of its existing commitment to improve connectivity in the province, leading to a historic investment of nearly $1 billion over six years.
"COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the challenges facing our northern and remote communities, including access to reliable, high-speed internet," said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. "Efficient and modern broadband infrastructure is critical to advancing economic recovery and development in Northern Ontario. Our government's investment is an important step forward to ensure communities across the North have access to remote education, skills training, and business opportunities."
"Reliable broadband service is certainly needed for life in the 21st century and today's announcement is a step towards making broadband improvements for our rural businesses, families and individuals," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. "Now more than ever, Ontario residents are relying on internet to access services, working from home and connecting with their loved ones."
- Ontario has invested in several initiatives to improve connectivity in Northern Ontario, including broadband projects through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and the Next Generation Network Program.
- On July 9, 2020, the province launched the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program, a multi-year program that aims to support approved broadband and cellular projects, as early as spring 2021. Ontario announced in November 2020 it was doubling funding in the program to $300 million.
- As many as 12 per cent of households in Ontario – or about 1.4 million people – are underserved or unserved, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.