Firstly, I am glad that we live in Canada where free and unbridled access to the Internet is a basic human right. Even granted that Canada has ongoing geographical and technological challenges to provide high grade Internet to all rural and remote communities. I would not swap this situation for the current autocratic and Orwellian approach to the Internet and mass media in Russia. In contrast, the Ukrainians are currently fighting to preserve their democracy and independence following the Russian invasion. It’s obvious that an integral part of this campaign is retaining the free and unbridled access to the Internet that they enjoy right now. I commend President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people in their struggle. It’s heartening to know that virtually the entire world is willing them to succeed.
I am now off my soap box and back to the update on broadband in Ontario. Access to the Internet in Ontario is, to put it politely, patchy in areas. However, when stable connections are made it opens a world of possibilities, for communities, business, education, fact checking, knowledge acquisition and balanced news broadcasting. On April 12, 2021, the Ontario Legislature passed the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021 to speed up the construction of high-speed Internet projects. The current Ontario Government plan is to invest approximately $4 billion to help connect all Ontarians to high-speed internet by the end of 2025. This in essence is less than three years away! There was also a joint Government of Canada and Ontario Government announcement in Ottawa on March 25, 2022. “We need to close the connection gap and ensure that every nook and cranny of Ontario has access to reliable high-speed Internet—whether that’s in Hickson or Beachville, or all the way in Ostrander. Today’s announcement of over $6 million to connect 1,191 rural households in the province is great news for Ontarians. Investments like these help create jobs, improve access to health care and online learning services, and keep us connected to our loved ones. The Government of Canada will continue to make investments like these to help achieve our national target of connecting 98% of Canadians by 2026, and 100% by 2030.” – The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development (Government of Canada). Durham Region and the Town of Whitby have prioritized broadband/high-speed Internet in their strategic plans from 2021 and this is in alignment with proposed federal and provincial spending forecasts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many strategic plans and the broadband roll out is no exception. Add to that the current global energy crisis and further implementation delays are possible. As a counterweight, let us hope that the expansion and enhancement of broadband with federal and provincial funding will help to support Ontario’s continued economic recovery. We must now await developments and watch for real signs of broadband’s “improving health” in rural and remote communities in Ontario. If you would like some more background on projected improvements to broadband, please follow the links below.
– Ernest Ogunleye, Owner & Principal Consultant, EON Performance Solutions
- Ontario Government https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-connects-making-high-speed-internet-accessible-in-every-community
- Government of Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/news/2022/03/governments-of-canada-and-ontario-invest-over-6-million-to-bring-high-speed-internet-to-1191rural-households.html
- Durham Region https://www.durham.ca/en/economic-development/invest-and-grow/telecommunications.aspx
- Town of Whitby https://www.whitby.ca/en/news/statement-from-mayor-don-mitchell-on-municipal-priorities-identified-in-2021-provincial-budget.aspx