Delivering High Speed Internet to More People in Southwestern OntarioPublished on June 11, 2020
Expanding Broadband Access in Waterloo Region
June 11, 2020
Today, Mike Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga and Belinda Karahalios, MPP for Cambridge, on behalf of Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, announced a major step in the expanding of broadband internet in Waterloo Region with the Request for Proposals (RFP) by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Inc. This program is part of the government’s commitment to expanding access to broadband internet in rural areas and makes way for up to $11.9 million in broadband infrastructure expansion.
“I’ve heard loud and clear from my constituents how important broadband access is for individuals, families, and businesses in rural areas,” said Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the current provincial government and Minister Hardeman’s commitment to expand fast and reliable internet in those areas right here in Waterloo Region.”
“Now, more than ever, we see how important access to fast and reliable internet is for individuals, families, and businesses,” said Belinda Karahalios, MPP for Cambridge. “Today’s announcement means a great deal for people in my riding and across Southwestern Ontario. Improved access to broadband is something I’ve been advocating for quite some time, and I want to thank Minister Hardeman for his and the provincial government’s commitment to bridging the gaps in access for our rural communities.”
“Without a doubt, this is a difficult time for all Canadians. Access to services, opportunities to connect in isolation and telework depend on access to high speed internet. That’s why our government’s investments to date are connecting a million households in Canada. SWIFT is one of hundreds of our partner organizations that are working hard to connect Canadians. We are proud of partnerships like these that allow for this work to move ahead,” said the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development.
“At a time when people have become more dependent than ever on broadband, having access to high-speed internet is critical,” said Allan Thompson, SWIFT Board Member and the Chair of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association. “SWIFT, together with our community leaders and local service providers, is committed to bringing Southwestern Ontario’s underserviced communities online and high-speed internet access to thousands. Today, as result of our public-private partnerships, SWIFT is proud to announce that many more homes and businesses in Waterloo Region will soon have greater access to reliable internet services.”
The RFP for Waterloo Region closes on October 2nd. The contract will be awarded and service provider agreement put in place shortly after the RFP closes.
The Ontario government recognizes how important rural broadband access is for individuals, families and businesses. Work continues toward bridging the gaps in broadband access in Southwestern Ontario, as part of a combined $190 million investment 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.
• As part of this investment, a Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to $11.9 million in broadband infrastructure was issued in Waterloo Region.
• 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’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan is expected to generate up to $1 billion in total investment over five years, resulting in new connections for up to 220,000 homes and businesses. This will lead to community, social and economic benefits well beyond the provincial investment.