Photo: Bill Walker
Bill Walker MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

Bill Walker MPP

Media Release:


November 17, 2020

Delivering Broadband in Bruce and Grey Counties

Faster, Reliable Internet will Create Local Jobs and Economic Growth in Rural and Remote Ontario

Bruce-Grey — Canada and Ontario are delivering on their commitment to create even more economic and educational opportunities in rural, remote and underserved areas of the province through an improved, modern broadband network in Southwestern Ontario.

Today, the Province announced that all contracts are signed in Bruce and Grey counties through the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project, ensuring that construction of up to $16 million in broadband infrastructure in Bruce County, and $17 million in Grey County, will now move forward. When completed, these projects will connect approximately 5,220 more homes and businesses in Bruce County and 3,960 homes and businesses in Grey County, to fast, reliable internet.

The contracts to expand high-speed fibre-optic broadband services in Bruce County and Grey 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.

"We invested to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023 through the Connect to Innovate program," said the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development. "Work is underway every day and in the next 18 months, we will connect 250,000 of these households. Our ambitious plan is working because we are working with our partners at the community level. We are about to open new calls for proposals to connect 100% of Canada's communities to reliable, quality internet access. Our number one goal over the coming months will be supporting high quality plans and applications from every community who needs better access. Together, with partners like those involved here in Bruce and Grey Counties, we will achieve universal internet access so that geography does not determine any Canadian's access to essential services, working from home and connecting with their loved ones. Congratulations to all the partners involved in this project by SWIFT!"

"The importance of connecting to reliable, high-speed internet is of utmost importance and our government has been working very hard to expand high-speed internet across rural Ontario," said Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron-Bruce. "I have been a tireless advocate for it in Huron-Bruce as part of my rural lens commitment to rural Ontario. This is great news for residents in the Cargill and Formosa areas where this service is very much needed as these communities continue to grow."

"Now, more than ever, we all understand the importance and value of having access to reliable and high-speed internet services. More and more residents of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound are working from home, ordering everyday items online and using online platforms to stay connected with their friends and family," said Bill Walker, MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. "I'm very excited to see the SWIFT project moving into the next stage in Grey and Bruce Counties. I'm looking forward to SWIFT progressing to improve connectivity in our rural areas."

"SWIFT is delivering on it's commitment to expand broadband service across Southwestern Ontario with the project moving at an accelerated rate to get shovels in the ground and residents online," said David Mayberry, SWIFT Board Chair. "Today's announcement brings us one step closer to closing the digital divide. We are proud of this achievement and are grateful for the ongoing support we have received from the governments of Ontario and Canada, as well as from our municipal partners, that have made this infrastructure investment possible."

The governments of Canada and Ontario recognize how important rural broadband access is for individuals, families and businesses. Work continues to bridge the gaps in broadband access in Southwestern Ontario, as part of a combined investment of more than $191 million to bring fast, reliable internet to thousands of homes and businesses.

Creating more ways to strengthen rural economies is part of the government's plan to build Ontario together. Reliable and affordable broadband internet will allow communities to attract new development, strengthen local economies and create more well-paying jobs and opportunities in rural Ontario.
 
QUICK FACTS:

  • The governments of Canada and Ontario are each contributing more than $63 million to SWIFT through the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – Small Communities Fund of the Investing in Canada plan.
  • SWIFT Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario that will support the critical expansion of broadband to underserved areas.
  • The Ontario government is making a historic investment of nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province. On November 4, Ontario announced $680 million 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.
  • The Ontario government will continue to expand access to broadband and cellular service through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON). It has doubled its investment in the program to $300 million. This multi-year program aims to support approved projects as early as 2021.

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