The Canadian government has launched a new initiative to provide low-income families and seniors affordable access to high-speed internet, but some advocates argue the plan is too limited in scope.
The new program expands on previous efforts by the Trudeau government to get low-income Canadians connected.
In 2017, the feds vowed to give access for $10 per month to the lowest-income families. But under this new $20-per-month plan, the speeds will be five to 10 times faster, data usage doubles to 200GB, and it will be expanded to include the lowest-income seniors.
It will be offered to those eligible for the maximum child benefit or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for seniors.
Ray Noyes, who has struggled to afford the internet and has been helping the group ACORN Canada fight for affordable access, says he doesn’t believe this plan goes far enough.
“There are many people people that are left out, including families who do not receive the maximum child benefit and including seniors who do not receive the maximum GIS. We want to see affordable internet for all low-income people,” Noyes said.
Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne says this is an important step to the federal goal to connect 98 per cent of Canadians to the internet by 2026.
“We all have families. We all know seniors and low-income families who need to be connected. I think in the world of today, this is essential because we want them to be fully part of the new, digital society that we have.”
While Noyes calls this a step in the right direction, he says “it may not be enough, fast enough to reach those goals.”
It’s believed hundreds of thousands of people will benefit from this affordable option. Rogers, which is the parent company of this website, is among the 14 internet service providers voluntarily taking part in this initiative.
Eligible households will receive a letter from the government, telling them how to sign up.
Article by Cormac Mac Sweeney and Denise Wong for CityNews Vancouver