Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants to expand natural gas access to families and business throughout rural and Northern Ontario with a partnership with local communities and the private sector.

Ford outlined plans while at the International Plowing Match in Pain Court on Tuesday.

"We heard from people across Ontario that natural gas expansion is important in order to grow businesses, create jobs and compete," says Ford. "By cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax, we have already acted to bring natural gas prices down for Ontario families and businesses.”

Ford says they are taking the next step to “ensure that the benefits of natural gas expansion are shared throughout the entire province."

The government will introduce legislation to develop the new natural gas program.

Under the previous government's restrictions, private sector companies were limited from participating in natural gas expansion, portions of which were instead managed by a taxpayer-funded program.

If passed, Ford says the new program would encourage more private gas distributors to partner with communities to develop projects that expand access to affordable and efficient natural gas.

"Expanding natural gas will make Ontario communities more attractive for job creation and new businesses," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure. "This is part of our government's plan to bring quality jobs back to Ontario and to send the clear message that Ontario is Open for Business."

The proposed new program would deliver decades of benefits to potentially dozens of communities across Ontario at no additional costs to the taxpayers while keeping existing natural gas costs low.

"The decision to extend natural gas services will support future housing supply and choice in rural and northern communities while providing home owners and businesses with an affordable and reliable heating option that will keep their everyday costs down," said Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders' Association.