Today, Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North, and Andrea Khanjin, MPP for Barrie-Innisfil, on behalf of Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, announced a major step in the expanding of broadband internet in Simcoe County 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 $27.9 million in broadband infrastructure expansion.

“Today, access to broadband internet is more than just a ‘nice to have’… it is an economic imperative. Thanks to the expansion of SWIFT across rural Ontario, families and businesses across my riding of Simcoe North will be able to access the high-quality internet connections they need to fully participate and grow in our local economy.” said MPP Jill Dunlop.

“As the pandemic has made clear, life in the 21st century requires access to fast, reliable internet in every home,” said MPP Andrea Khanjin. “The funding unlocked by this announcement will deliver broadband for residents and businesses in rural areas of Innisfil. This investment is much needed to help provide all residents with equal opportunity to get online.”

“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,” said Thompson. “Today, as result of our public-private partnerships, SWIFT is proud to announce that many more homes and businesses in Simcoe County will soon have greater access to reliable internet services.”

The RFP for Simcoe County closes on Sept. 11. 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.

QUICK FACTS  

  • As part of this investment, a Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to $27.9 million in broadband infrastructure was issued in Simcoe County.
  • 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.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan