As the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission reviews the affordability of internet service in Canada, a national action group is calling attention to the difficulty low income people have getting online access.
ACORN Canada held a nationwide protest on Tuesday called Internet For All to draw attention to the financial barriers to internet access. ACORN describes itself as an independent organization advocating for low and moderate income families, with more than 70,000 members.
In Dartmouth on Tuesday, members from ACORN Nova Scotia protested across from the CRTC offices on the final day for submissions in the first phase of the consultation process.
Jonethan Brigley, the Dartmouth chair of ACORN, was on income assistance up until 10 months ago. He says the internet was vital to his job search, especially since so many places won't accept paper resumes anymore.
"Nowadays a lot of jobs, such as McDonald's, various fast food joints and places like Walmart … they all require that you apply online," Brigley said.
Internet access vital, ACORN argues
He says internet access was also vital for creating a digital resume, accessing information about job fairs and logging into his email so potential employers could contact him.
Brigley says he knows many people on income assistance that take funds from their food money to pay for home internet, especially families with children who need to access online homework assignments.
The expense of transportation is also an issue for low income people who have to travel to community centres and libraries to access the free computers available for public use, he said.
He says many disabled people with bus access find it difficult to travel as well.
"These places are filling up more and more to the point where people go days and weeks without being able to check to see if they got a reply to a resume or even search for a job," Brigley says.
"Speaking from personal experience, it is very frustrating."
ACORN Canada is proposing a $10 a month fee for basic high-speed internet access. They are also looking for donations of refurbished computers.
"When people say that internet access is a luxury, they are thinking of those who go online to watch videos or check their social status," Brigley said.
"Those who think the internet is a luxury don't suffer the way those who don't have it suffer."
Article source: CBC News