Guelph, ON [December 22, 2016] – Access to reliable high speed internet is necessary no matter where you live. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has been advocating for this basic necessity for rural Ontarians and welcomes the recent ruling by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that broadband access internet service is now considered a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians.

The funding announcement of up to $750 million over five years in addition to existing government programs to extend services to rural and remote areas will go a long way to bring rural residents, farms and businesses the basic telecommunications services necessary to participate in today’s digital economy. The CRTC also ruled that broadband internet with download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 10 Mbps will now be considered a “basic telecom service.”

OFA has been addressing the need for reliable, high speed broadband with government for a number of years. “Broadband internet access is a fundamental necessity for conducting business today, no matter where you are located,” says Keith Currie, OFA President. “The previous $180 million of provincial and federal funding for SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) was a start and this CRTC ruling will secure the extension of high speed internet across rural Ontario.”

The CRTC reports 82 per cent of Canadians already have access to high download and upload speeds, but aren’t common in rural and northern areas. Access to this essential business service will enable economic development in rural Ontario.  A stronger rural economy will also serve to alleviate housing and infrastructure challenges facing urban Ontario centres by attracting young families to communities outside of major urban Ontario cities.

“The CRTC’s ruling to deliver this vital infrastructure service will grow our farms, communities, and  provincial economy while providing equal educational opportunities to our next generation,” says Currie. “OFA looks forward to working with government in 2017 to deliver the high speed access to rural Ontarians and formalize this investment as an infrastructure essential.”

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 36,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer.