The provincial government has introduced a bill that, if passed, would make broadband internet more accessible in underserved areas.

Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure, tabled the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act on Thursday. 

“We knew there was a digital divide, and then COVID hit us and the digital divide is larger and people need the services as fast as we can get it because we need to live, we need to work from home and we need to access healthcare services,” Scott said. 

The legislation would reduce the cost for internet providers to attach broadband wirelines to hydro utility poles in areas with poor or no internet connection. 

Scott says she has worked with the service providers and municipal governments to determine how to best connect areas with high-speed internet.

“We’ve got all the players that we need to bring together to remove the barriers to getting people connected faster all at a table and this legislation will do this for people,” she said. “We’re all going to sit down and say ‘how are we going to make it better? How are we going to make it more cost-efficient?”

The Ontario government pledged an additional $1 billion for improved broadband connectivity in its 2020 budget. 

About 700,000 Ontario households lack access to reliable broadband internet or don’t have a connection at all.

Scott says her government will attempt to get the bill passed as soon as possible and start working on getting people connected.