« Access to high-speed internet will create jobs, improve health and safety for all, and help bridge the rural-urban divide,” stated Maryam Monsef, minister for women and gender equality and rural economic development. “The pandemic added urgency to this work, and the Government of Canada responded with the Universal Broadband Fund.”
An investment of $362 million was announced during a visit to Russell Township on August 6, brought forward jointly by the governments of Canada and Ontario as part of the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program, to bring high-speed internet to 90,124 households in Eastern Ontario. The announcement was made by Monsef, Kinga Surma, Ontario’s infrastructure minister, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP François Drouin, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonnell, Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux, and Deputy-Mayor Michel Levert for the City of Clarence-Rockland.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that Internet access is essential for our communities and for our sustainable economic recovery,” stated Drouin. “Today we are announcing that more than 90,000 homes will be connected. This is the result of many years of work with our partners, and today, the residents of Eastern Ontario are reaping the benefits.”
The ICON program is an agreement between the province of Ontario and the government of Canada to support large-scale, fibre-based projects that will deliver high-speed Internet access to the entire province by 2025. More than 890,000 rural and remote households are on track to be connected by then thanks to nearly $1 billion that is to be equally invested by the province and Canada over the next six years.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank is also assessing opportunities to partner with private investors in order to expand broadband coverage.