Island part of historic high speed internet agreement

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ONTARIO – Nearly 280,000 residents in Ontario including those on Manitoulin Island will benefit from an historic agreement between the federal and Ontario government to improve access to high-speed internet. 

On July 29, 2021 the Honorable Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and minister of finance and member of parliament for University-Rosedale; the Honorable Maryam Monsef, minister for women and gender equality and rural economic development and member  of parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha; the Honourable Kinga Surma, Ontario’s minister of infrastructure and member of provincial parliament for Etobicoke Centre; and Dave Smith, parliamentary assistant to the minister of northern development and mines, natural resources and forestry (Northern Development and Mines) and to the minister of Indigenous affairs and member of provincial parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha, announced a historic agreement to bring high-speed internet to nearly 280,000 rural Ontario households in hundreds of communities across the province.

Under this agreement, the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario have partnered to support large-scale, fibre-based projects that will provide high-speed internet access to all corners of the province by 2025. This historic agreement is being made possible by an equal federal-provincial investment totaling more than $1.2 billion.

In addition, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is assessing opportunities proposed through the Universal Broadband fund to provide additional financing on a project-by-project basis toward significant expansion of broadband in partnership with private and institutional investors.

The estimated number of homes/businesses to gain increased access to high-speed internet includes up to 26,690 in Assiginack, Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation, Baldwin, Billings, Blind River, Bruce Mines, Burpee and Mills, Central Manitoulin, Elliot Lake, Espanola, Gordon/Barrie Island, Gore Bay, Hilton, Hilton Beach, Huron Shores, Jocelyn, Johnson, Laird, M’Chigeeng First Nation, Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional, Mississauga First Nation, Nairn and Hyman, Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, Plummer Additional, Sables-Spanish Rivers, Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, Serpent River First Nation, Sheguiandah First Nation, Sheshegwaning First Nation, Spanish, St. Joseph, Tarbutt and Tarbutt Additional, Tehkummah, the North Shore, Thessalon, Thessalon First Nation, Whitefish River First Nation, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territories and Zhiibaahaasing First Nation.

“Broadband is critical infrastructure, and the pandemic has made this more apparent than ever,” said Minister Freeland. “Reliable high-speed internet allows us to learn, attend school and work remotely and it allows small businesses to serve customers. But too many rural communities still do not have access to high-speed internet. Broadband access is critical for our country’s economic growth and recovery, and our government is committed to making sure no community is left behind. This investment, in partnership with Ontario and the Canada Infrastructure Bank, will connect nearly 280,000 rural Ontario households to high-speed internet. Our government will continue to work with all partners to connect as many households as possible, as quickly as possible, to this essential service.”

Canada-wide, more than 890,000 rural and remote households are on track to be connected to high-speed internet as a result of federal investments. At the end of March 2021, 175,000 rural and remote households had been connected to high-speed internet under projects supported by the Government of Canada. By the end of this year, over 435,000 households will be connected thanks to support from the federal government.

This investment represents a concrete step forward that will move Ontario almost 40 percent of the way in its ambitious plan to achieve 100 percent connectivity for all regions in the province by the end of 2025. This investment builds on Ontario’s recently announced investment of up to $14.7 million for 13 new projects under the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program. This will provide up to 17,000 homes and businesses with access to reliable high-speed internet and builds on a range of provincial initiatives under way that will connect another 70,000 homes and businesses.

Also part of Ontario’s plan to achieve 100 percent connectivity is a recently announced innovative procurement process that is being used to help connect the vast majority of the remaining underserved and unserved communities. Procurement under this delivery model, led by Infrastructure Ontario, will begin later this summer.