Ontario ministers ask federal government to help expand rural internet access for students

The ministers state that existing internet connectivity gaps prevent education equity

Ontario ministers have written a letter to the federal government to request “immediate” support to expand broadband internet access in the province.

The Toronto Star reports that Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott wrote the letter to address the limited access available to students who reside in rural areas of the province.

“While most residents in Ontario have access to the internet, the speed, quality, and cost vary significantly across the province. Existing internet connectivity gaps prevent many elementary and secondary students from accessing the same learning made available to all other Ontario students, affecting education equity,” the letter reads.

In the letter, the ministers reference the fact that the CRTC notes that regardless of where Canadians live, they should have access to broadband speeds of at least 50Mbps download and 10Mbps upload.

On its Broadband Fund website, the CTRC says “you should have an internet connection with access to broadband speeds of at least 50Mbps download and 10Mbps upload and access to unlimited data. Many Canadians, particularly those in rural and remote areas, do not have adequate access to these services.”

The government has set a target of providing 90 percent of Canadians access to high-speed internet at these speeds by 2021, 95 percent by 2026 and 100 percent of all Canadians by 2030.

This letter from the provincial ministers comes as all levels of school, including colleges and universities, in the province have shifted to online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford’s government has committed $315 million for the next five years to expand broadband access across the province. Ontario has also requested help from the federal government to help bring nearly 3,000 schools in the province online.

Source: The Toronto Star

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