The Government of Ontario released its provincial budget Wednesday, with a big spend on internet and broadband expansion for the province, including rural areas.

The announcement of $2.8 billion for expanded broadband will bring the total that Ontario has committed to broadband expansion over $4 billion, with a commitment to connect the entire province by 2025.

Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman welcomes the commitment of the government to better connectivity for the province, and for rural areas, specifically.

Hardeman says that connectivity was identified as a major hold-back for e-learning, telecommuting, and conducting business in rural Ontario.

Wednesday’s budget also included more money for workplace health and safety supplies, such as personal protective equipment, with $10 million earmarked for the year ahead, as an extension of the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program announced in June 2020.

Meat processing facilities and farmers may also qualify for up to $5 million under AgriRecovery initiatives, including those related to livestock processing capacity, such as beef and pork set aside programs.

This budget also includes some money for winery and cideries, Hardeman says, to improve the competitiveness of the sector. “It’s money that will go directly to help them build the industry,” he says, adding that alcohol-related taxes were identified by the industry as working against its competitiveness.

Listen on for more from Hardeman on this latest budget, as well as comments on what he hopes to see happen at today’s Federal-Provincial-Territorial meeting on business risk management reform: 

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