broadbandxx2020 270The Ontario government is expanding access to reliable broadband and cellular service in underserved and unserved parts of the province.

The application intake for the $150 million Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON) opened this week. This funding will help drive economic investment and job creation across the province, while allowing more people to work from home more efficiently, engage in online learning, and connect with family and friends.

"The outbreak of COVID-19 reinforced the need to improve access to reliable broadband and cellular service as more people work and learn from home in order to practise physical distancing," said Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure. "By making these investments we will help to ensure every region in the province can participate in the modern digital economy, and contribute to Ontario's economic recovery."

Any areas across Ontario that do not meet the national standards for broadband speeds would be eligible for provincial funding. Up to 12 per cent of households in the province - mostly in rural, remote, or northern areas - don't have adequate broadband service, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Since Day One, our government has been committed to improving broadband, and we’ve taken action to connect communities all across Ontario, including support for projects that will connect communities right here in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound,” said Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker.

Eligible recipients are invited to submit innovative proposals at the following address: https://www.ontario.ca/page/available-funding-opportunities-ontario-government and lend their investment, expertise, and experience to improve connectivity in communities across Ontario. The preliminary application deadline for the first intake of the ICON program is August 21.

The province's investment of $150 million announced today is part of the $315 million Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. This action plan has the potential to leverage up to $1 billion in partner funding for broadband infrastructure investments.

I strongly encourage service providers, local municipalities, Indigenous communities, and non-profits in Bruce-Grey-Owen sound to submit proposals that will provide access to broadband for underserved areas across Bruce and Grey counties,” said Walker.