QUEEN’S PARK – NDP Deputy Leader John Vanthof released the following statement following the Ford government’s latest broadband announcement.
“The fact that 1.4 million Ontarians have no access to usable, affordable, high-speed internet has become a crisis in this province.
Any funding announcement will be seen as good news, but the problem with the Ford government is that funding announcements for broadband do not always turn into actual funding. In the last budget, there was over $30 million allocated for rural broadband in 2019-20, but the Financial Accountability Officer revealed that none of that money was actually invested in rural broadband. None.
If funding announcements were going to get internet to everyone in rural and Northern Ontario, we would have had it already. The government needs to have a strategy to ensure that everyone gets access, and that those at the end of the line are not forgotten.
The NDP has tabled the Broadband is an Essential Service Act to ensure that people from rural, northern and remote areas of Ontario finally get the broadband they need.
The bill will ensure that the Ford government creates, and takes action on, a strategy so that every Ontarian will have access to usable, affordable broadband.
The bill also obliges the provincial government to report on their progress. In order to make sure that announcements actually turn into internet access for all, the Ford government should pass the bill.”
Vanthof has tabled the Broadband is an Essential Service Act, which would require the Minister of Infrastructure to develop a Broadband Connectivity Strategy that would deliver affordable high speed internet access to 95 per cent of Ontarians by 2026, and to all Ontarians by 2030. It would require the Minister to update the strategy and undertake consultations on its progress. Vanthof tabled the bill on Tuesday.