Earlier this afternoon about ten members of the anti-poverty group ACORN held a rally in Dartmouth to bring attention to high costs of internet access and what that means for people on low income.
Katie Campbell was one of the people who attended the rally. She doesn't make a lot of money, she tells the Halifax Media Co-op.
“Internet access isn't just too expensive, it's simply prohibitive,” Campbell says. “It's cutting people off from things like online education, finding jobs, submitting your job applications and so on. It's also how you communicate with your friends and family.”
“People even do their dating online,” she adds. “The internet is no longer a fun thing to have, or a nerdy little pastime, it essential. I believe that internet access is a right.”
The rally was held at the Dartmouth office of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Wyse Road. The CRTC has initiated a review to determine whether all Canadians have adequate access to services that are necessary to participate in the digital economy.
Wealthy people have no problem getting online. The latest Stats Canada numbers show that 94 per cent of Nova Scotians earning more than $87,000 per year have internet access.
But access drops to 55 per cent for people who earn less than $30,000.
If you are poor and old the numbers go down even more. For instance, only 25 per cent of low-income seniors are able to log onto the internet.
“I believe that poverty is like being constantly under assault, Campbell says. “And internet is a great example of how that works, because without internet you are outside of things.”
Campbell is very appreciative of the internet services provided by the not-for-profit Chebucto Community Net. But speed is often an issue, she believes.
It's time for commercial service providers to step up and cut their prices for people on low income, Campbell says.
“Those companies make enough money that they can afford to make fast and steady internet available to everyone. You can call it a subsidy, you can roll it out as a Chebucto Community Net extension, there are so many ways.”
Article by Robert Devet for Halifax Media Co-op