Building Rural Ontario Together

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Province moving forward with new intake for Rural Economic Development program and three broadband pilots

January 20, 2020 10:00 A.M. Office of the Premier

As part of the government's Plan to Build Ontario Together, Ontario is helping rural communities across the province attract investment, create jobs and boost economic development through the Rural Economic Development (RED) program.

Earlier today while speaking at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) annual conference, Premier Doug Ford announced the province is now accepting applications for a new intake this year under the RED program.

"Many rural communities are feeling left behind," said Premier Doug Ford. "We need to make sure everyone, no matter where they live, can find a good job, grow a business, start a family, and build a better life for themselves. The RED program is one of the many ways that our government is helping to bring real benefits to more communities in rural Ontario."

Rural communities and regions, Indigenous communities and organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and local service boards can all apply for the RED program starting today through February 24, 2020.

As part of the program's Economic Diversification and Competitiveness Stream, the province will cover up to 50% of the costs for eligible projects that help remove barriers to job creation and attract investment and skilled workers that will help regions grow. The Strategic Economic Infrastructure Stream of the program enables the province to cover up to 30% of eligible minor capital projects that help spur economic growth, such as restoring museums and heritage sites, setting up community hubs, and streetscaping.

The Ontario government is also working with our federal partners and the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project to provide a combined investment of nearly $35 million for a broadband pilot in rural communities across Ontario. SWIFT is taking the next step today by awarding contracts to successful bidders to help bring better broadband service to three counties in Southwestern Ontario.

"This investment will help SWIFT move forward on projects that will provide broadband access to approximately 11,000 more homes and businesses across Norfolk, Wellington and Lambton counties," said Minister Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "Having high-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity that allows our businesses to connect to global markets, enables students and workers to learn and upgrade their skills, and allows people to bank or shop online."

The Ontario government is committed to helping build stronger rural communities that can attract investment and jobs to their region and promote new economic opportunities for their residents.


The government is also supporting rural Ontario through additional measures that include:

  • Responding to farmer and rural municipality concerns by introducing Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019 in the Ontario Legislature. If passed, the legislation will better protect farmers, their families, their employees, animals, livestock transporters, and the province's food supply.
  • Providing $450,000 in new funding for the Rural Ontario Institute, an organization that provides leadership development programs for agriculture, rural businesses and organizations that help drive economic development and promote leadership in rural communities.
  • Hosting a series of economic roundtables to listen to the views of people living in rural Ontario to understand how best to leverage the potential for economic growth in their communities. The first roundtable took place on January 19 at ROMA.
  • Developing the new AgriSuite, a valuable suite of tools for farmers, land use planners and municipalities encompassing a phosphorus risk assessment to support environmental sustainability and Nutrient Management Planning tools that help to protect drinking water sources.

Quick Facts

  • The Rural Economic Development program is part of Ontario’s commitment to rural communities, which also includes expanding access to natural gas and improving rural infrastructure.
  • Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) is a not-for-profit corporation initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, a group of 15 municipalities. SWIFT is focused on improving connectivity in Southwestern Ontario, Caledon and the Niagara Region. The project is delivered with support from Ontario and other levels of government.
  • Ontario is supporting the SWIFT project in southwestern Ontario, committing up to $63.7 million in funding toward SWIFT’s total project costs of more than $190 million.

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