In a seemingly always progressing digital world, having access to high-speed internet has become an essential basic necessity. As such, it is part of the Government of Ontario’s Budget 2022 plan to provide high-speed internet to every community in Ontario by 2025. Several construction projects of broadband infrastructure are already underway in providing connectivity access to thousands of buildings across rural Ontario communities which previously had limited or no internet availability.
Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) has a plan to invest roughly $268 million for regional broadband expansion to high-speed internet service for more than 63,000 homes and businesses throughout Southwestern Ontario by 2023.
In the most recent announcement of SWIFT funding through the New Building Canada Small Communities Fund, the governments of Canada and Ontario are jointly investing $5.3 million to improve access to high-speed internet. This initiative will reach more than 3,400 businesses, homes, and farms in Essex County, a rural Ontario community that includes the seven municipalities of Amherstburg, Kingsville, Lakeshore, LaSalle, Leamington, Tecumseh, and Essex.
“Providing reliable internet access is especially important for rural communities to prosper in our increasingly digital world. This will ensure that thousands of homes, businesses, and farms can connect to essential online services and enjoy the additional economic opportunities made available through high-speed internet.”
– Irek Kusmierczyk, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and Member of Parliament for Windsor
In September, the governments each invested over $950,000 in funding to enhance high-speed internet access to more than 930 buildings in the Oxford County community, which consists of eight lower-tier municipalities: Woodstock, Tillsonburg, Ingersoll, Norwich, Zorra, South-West Oxford, Blandford-Blenheim, and East Zorra-Tavistock.
Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Program: Funding for Rural Community Internet Access
Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is a non-profit capital corporation that was formed with the sole purpose of establishing a high-speed internet network for municipalities in southwestern Ontario, Caledon, and Niagara Region.
In line with the Government of Ontario’s plans to improve provincial-wide internet access, SWIFT plans to invest approximately $268 million for high-speed internet enhancement to roughly 63,000 buildings throughout Southwestern Ontario by 2023.
To date, SWIFT has already awarded 97 contracts to 19 unique Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to bring internet connectivity to Southwestern Ontario communities, including those announced in Essex and Oxford Countries.
“Our world is moving increasingly into digital spaces, making access to modern broadband essential for our communities to continue growing and prospering. Better connectivity in Oxford County will help to attract investment, while making the region an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
– Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre
The Importance of Rural Communities Receiving High-Speed Internet
In 2021, the Government of Ontario passed the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021 to help speed up construction of broadband internet projects. Ontario is thereby helping remove barriers and delays, making it easier and faster to build high-speed internet infrastructure through the Getting Ontario Connected Act, 2022, which was passed unanimously by the Legislature on April 11, 2022.
This legislation helps ensure rural communities, which previously had either limited or zero internet connectivity, are provided access to reliable internet. This helps Ontario achieve its commitment to connect every region with access to high-speed internet by the end of 2025.
“We’re delivering on our government’s commitment to provide access to high-speed internet for rural Ontario. New connections will help families stay in touch and access the supports they need, while providing a much-needed boost to the local economy. It’s this type of critical infrastructure that builds Ontario and benefits the entire community.”
– Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Canadian Grants and Loans for Community Improvement
To improve communities means to stay updated with the changing times and having access to high-speed internet is a crucial need being sought by millions around the world. From paying bills through mobile during a global pandemic to receiving important news regarding the state of the world, Canada has deemed it that each person has a right to access the internet in the place they call home.
Along with government funding for technological advancements such as high-speed internet access through SWIFT, there are many other grants and loans available to help businesses with improving their surrounding communities.
One example of a community improvement program that is currently open for applications is the EnAbling Change Program which provides grant funding for eligible organizations to promote the benefits of accessibility improvements across Ontario.
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