Yesterday, the Ontario government announced a major step in improving broadband access in Southwestern Ontario – moving forward with a combined $150 million investment to bring fast, reliable internet to thousands of homes and businesses.
Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, announced that as part of this investment a Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to $8.2 million in broadband infrastructure in Oxford County is being issued today. The RFP will be issued by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc., a not-for-profit corporation initiated by local municipalities to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario.
“Having high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Minister Hardeman. “Far too many families and businesses in our community are frustrated because they don’t have a reliable internet connection. Our government’s investment will help connect them and create new opportunities.”
Increasing access to high-speed internet will better equip communities and businesses in Oxford County to compete in regional and global markets, attract new jobs and improve the quality of life for residents. Today’s announcement builds on projects recently awarded in Norfolk, Lambton and Wellington.
“After successfully delivering positive results in our initial project regions, SWIFT is proud to be taking yet another step forward with the launch of a targeted broadband project dedicated to improving internet connectivity to the homes and businesses in Oxford County,” said David Mayberry, SWIFT Board Chair and Mayor of South-West Oxford.
Today’s announcement marks the third phase of the SWIFT project. In total, the project will invest more than $190 million in expanding broadband in Ontario including funding from federal, provincial and municipal governments.
“Our government has a plan to connect all of Canada to high-speed internet by 2030,” said the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development. “This plan is underway and it’s working. Since 2017, we’ve invested to connect over 900 communities, including 190 Indigenous communities to high-speed internet. Through partnerships with the province, municipalities and service providers, we will continue to create jobs and a higher quality of life for those living in rural Canada.”
“We applaud the federal and Ontario governments for helping to bring fast, reliable and affordable broadband infrastructure to Rural Ontario,” said Keith Currie, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. “This investment will significantly benefit our farms, homes and businesses rural communities who increasingly need access to high-speed internet for their work and everyday lives.”