Ontario Connecting More Communities to High-Speed Internet AccessPublished on March 07, 2022
New legislation helping to accelerate connectivity projects
TORONTO – The Ontario government is introducing legislation to help bring reliable high-speed internet to underserved and unserved communities sooner. If passed, the changes would remove barriers, duplication and delays, making it easier and faster to build high-speed internet infrastructure across the province.
“By taking this leap, our government is helping to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet, providing people with the digital services they need and deserve,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “The Getting Ontario Connected Act, 2022, if passed, would help meet our government’s commitment to connect every community with access to high-speed internet by the end of 2025. We’re building Ontario faster and strengthening our communities while laying the foundation for long-term economic growth.”
Ontario is investing $900 million in more than 180 broadband, cellular and satellite projects across the province. The Getting Ontario Connected Act, 2022 would provide the tools and assurances that internet service providers need to get shovels in the ground as early as this summer.
The new legislation would also improve Ontario One Call’s processes of determining the location of underground infrastructure like telecommunications lines, water mains and gas pipelines, known as locates. Instead of everyone using their own locate process, they would be able to have the work done by one person in some situations, reducing duplication. This is expected to significantly reduce waiting periods for internet service providers, strengthen safety for workers, and improve the accuracy of results, leading to accelerated construction of broadband infrastructure across Ontario.
“It often takes businesses and builders too long to start construction because of how complicated it is to get information about underground infrastructure,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “These are costly delays to building critical high-speed internet projects and housing developments that we can’t afford, which is why we’re accelerating how quickly workers can get shovels in the ground.”
“Ontarians expect and deserve reliable internet service wherever they live, learn or do business,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “By removing barriers to high-speed internet expansion, more Ontarians will be able to access public services, such as health care and education, operate businesses and access employment opportunities.”
The legislation builds on the progress the government has already made as part of its plan to get Ontario connected, including an investment of nearly $4 billion to provide people and businesses across the province with access to reliable high-speed internet. The province also took action to help speed up construction of projects through the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021 and the Building Broadband Faster Act, 2021.
Today’s introduction of legislation would help expand access to digital health care services, as well as ensuring that everyone in Ontario can work, learn, start a business, participate in the agricultural sector and connect with family and friends.
- All underground infrastructure owners are required to register with One Call as members, including gas and oil utilities, electrical utilities, telecommunication companies and municipalities. One Call currently has 835 members across the province.
- In 2021, Ontario One Call processed 1,114,404 locate requests.
- The Ontario government is investing over $900 million in more than 180 broadband, cellular and satellite projects, bringing faster internet access to 375,000 homes and businesses across the province and significantly improving cellular connectivity throughout Eastern Ontario.
- In 2021, Ontario announced projects in regions across the province, including six projects that will serve Northern Ontario, 17 Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) projects led exclusively by the province, and 58 projects that Ontario is co-funding with Canada through ICON and the Universal Broadband Fund.
- The province has invested in initiatives to improve connectivity across Eastern and Southwestern Ontario. It has also invested in high-speed internet projects in rural and Northern communities through other initiatives, such as the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and the Next Generation Network Program.
- Expanding access to high-speed internet is part of Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, which includes more than 30 projects that are changing the way people and businesses interact with government.