Timmins Chamber urges provincial government to make broadband a priority


Date:  7/26/2016
ArticleType:  Press Release

Timmins, ON | JULY 26, 2016: In partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), the Timmins Chamber is calling for Premier Kathleen Wynne to commit dedicated provincial infrastructure funds to developing and expanding broadband internet access in remote and rural areas of the province.

In a letter issued to the Premier and several key cabinet ministers, the provincial Chamber network is calling upon the provincial government to recognize that access to high-speed internet is essential for Ontario businesses to compete in the 21st-century global economy. With record investments being made by government in transit and transportation infrastructure, the province must also incorporate high-speed internet within that approach, according to the Timmins Chamber.

“Local businesses in Timmins are becoming increasingly dependent on internet access for their everyday business practices,” said Kurt Bigeau, president of the Timmins Chamber. “High-speed internet access has become a necessity for doing business in today’s economy and it is critical that all regions across Ontario have adequate access to this essential infrastructure.”

While the Timmins Chamber and the OCC acknowledge that the recent federal budget includes broadband investments to be made by the Government of Canada, internet access continues to be an issue in parts of Ontario – including the northeast.

The letter to the Premier 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:

  • Develop a robust broadband investment strategy that acknowledges that broadband is an essential infrastructure investment, and creates space for continued private-sector investment.

  • 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.

  • 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,” said Allan O’Dette, CEO & President of the OCC. “Committing funds to broadband infrastructure in rural and remote regions of the province will ensure that economic fragmentation is reduced in Ontario.”

With government services increasingly shifting to online platforms, universal access to high speed internet is becoming more important than ever. By working with the Timmins Chamber and the Ontario business community, government can develop broadband policy that is responsive to existing needs while not dissuading private sector investment.

           
About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce

With over 700 members, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest accredited chambers of commerce with distinction in northeastern Ontario. As the “Voice of Business in Timmins” since 1949, our advocacy and policy initiatives focus on ensuring a positive business climate in the City of Timmins.

Media contact:

Nick Stewart
Manager of Policy, Research and Communications
Timmins Chamber of Commerce
(705) 360-1900
policy@timminschamber.on.ca