OFA: Rural Ontario welcomes promise of better broadband connection

By Crispin Colvin, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) welcomes the long-awaited news of a public investment in broadband and cellular service. The announcement, made this week by the Ontario government, detailed a 2019 provincial budget line of $315 million over the next five years for broadband and cellular expansion.

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This investment is expected to improve internet and cell service for up to 220,000 homes and businesses that don’t currently have access to broadband or are underserved. The announcement focused on investing in rural and remote areas of the province – a key element of OFA’s Producing Prosperity advocacy campaign.

Reliable internet supports farms and rural communities. Without it, our businesses, residents and schools are at a competitive disadvantage. OFA is encouraged by the government’s investment and attention to servicing rural and remote areas, and we look forward to working with the government and private sector companies to implement a plan to connect all Ontarians.

Broadband and cellular networks are critical infrastructure. It’s been three years since the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission declared broadband internet access a basic service in Canada. OFA believes broadband to be an essential service.

For Ontario farmers and businesses, a high-speed connection means increased productivity, improved product marketing and the ability to reach a wider range of customers. To stay competitive, Ontario farmers must be connected.

Investments like these are the first step to realizing the tremendous potential Ontario’s agri-food sector and rural communities can offer our province. Strategic economic investments, like expanding reliable internet and cell phone access, will stimulate job creation, contribute to affordable community development, and deliver economic growth and prosperity for all Ontarians. OFA’s Producing Prosperity in Ontario campaign outlines recommended public investments and the economic payoffs that can be realized from reliable broadband, access to natural gas and affordable energy, sound roads and bridges, and a stable rural school system.

Better connections will open opportunities for our agri-food sector and rural communities. We look forward to better access and improved connectivity for everyone across the province.