TORONTO, ON, JULY 21st, 2016: Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to commit dedicated provincial infrastructure funds to developing and expanding broadband infrastructure in remote and rural areas of the province. With record investments being made by government in transit and transportation, the business advocacy organization is calling upon the provincial government to recognize through infrastructure dollars that high speed internet access is also essential for Ontario businesses to compete in the 21st century global economy.
“As Ontario business becomes increasingly integrated into a technology-driven knowledge economy, access to high-speed Internet is a necessity,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “High-speed Internet is no longer recognized as a luxury, but as a basic infrastructure need that is essential for businesses participating in a competitive global economy.”
While the OCC acknowledges broadband investments made by the Government of Canada in the recent federal budget, Internet access continues to be an issue in parts of Ontario. The letter identifies three key recommendations that the Ontario government should address in the coming term to ensure all communities in the province are able to compete in the global economy of the 21st century:
1. Develop a robust broadband investment strategy that acknowledges that broadband is an essential infrastructure investment, and creates space for continued private-sector investment.
2. Build partnerships across all levels of government in order to leverage funding and respond to local need. Recognizing that the private sector has driven investment in broadband infrastructure, the OCC recommends an intergovernmental funds matching formula that will continue to incentivize large private sector investments
3. Benchmark Ontario’s Internet speeds and access. In order to ensure Ontario is able to compete in a technology-driven global economy, we need to create broadband infrastructure that is equal with those of other globally-competitive jurisdictions.
“Just as businesses depend on roads and electricity, high-speed Internet is fundamental to advancing the province’s economic interests,” added O’Dette. “Committing funds to broadband infrastructure in rural and remote regions of the province will ensure that economic fragmentation is reduced in Ontario.”
With public government services increasingly shifting to online platforms, universal access to Internet is becoming more important than ever. By working with the Ontario business community, government can develop broadband policy that is responsive to existing needs while not dissuading private sector investment.
Senior Communications Advisor
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
t. (416) 482-5220 ext: 2470