Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus Calling for Rural Internet Support

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

CKLW AM 800/Zander Broekel



There's a push for more support for rural broadband in southwest Ontario.

The Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus has approved a recommendation that calls for increased funding from senior levels of government to address connectivity gaps. [ MEDIA RELEASE ]

President and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation Stephen McKenzie says this is especially important during the pandemic when people are even more dependent on reliable internet.

He says the current situation is bad for business.

"High speed internet is a key for growth,” says McKenzie. “It's key for our companies to be able to operate in today's environment. Of course with COVID, which is really shining a light on opportunities for remote working and things like that, a strong infrastructure will be crucial."

He says people living in city centres may not realize just how bad the issue is.

"If you have it it's almost taken for granted. You don't think about it and it's a very real issue. Especially with remote work, the ability to have the infrastructure to distribute large blocks of information and data is going to be crucial in the same way that you need highways and bridges."

McKenzie says it's all about staying competitive with other regions.

"There's that physical infrastructure of the ultra high speed fibre optics and then, of course, the funding in order to make that happen,” he adds. “Just like any other infrastructure project whether it's a bridge, whether it's a highway, infrastructure is costly, but it's an investment that we need to make to stay competitive."

McKenzie says the issue is even more pressing as school boards continue to shift to online learning leaving students with slow or no internet at a major disadvantage.