In the News
Without guaranteed and affordable internet access, Lekan Olawoye fears some Canadians could be left behind economically as the pandemic's physical distancing measures remain in place for months to come.
"It's absolutely imperative that right now, in 2020 ... people have access to this, especially when you are thinking about historically underrepresented groups, like black professionals," said Olawoye, the outspoken founder of the Black Professionals In Tech Network.
"If you want a job, you need to be able to do webinars and live interviews."
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted renewed calls for widespread affordable internet and wireless services. Alongside calls for a guaranteed basic income, some are calling for guaranteed universal, affordable internet access.
There was a time when Internet access was a luxury – a ‘nice to have,’ -- but that time has long since past. Now, with COVID-19, Internet access is an essential lifeline to health appointments, school, work, food and medicine deliveries, banking, government emergency funding – and so much more.
Every household needs Internet access.
With the novel coronavirus, not having Internet access can mean the difference between life and death. Having to leave the household for essential goods and services, instead of accessing them online from the safety of your home, can mean risking your safety and that of your loved ones.
Yet Internet access remains unaffordable for many Canadians.
The broadband internet connection in Mikayla Burnett’s Scarborough home struggled to handle the extra load as soon as Ontario schools closed last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 18-year-old high school student, her brother and two cousins who live with them all need to use it to keep up with their studies, but the increased demand has meant the service — which combined with a landline phone costs the family $150 a month — has slowed to a crawl.
“If I was sitting in my room, I couldn’t hand in assignments. It would be loading for 20 minutes — it would take forever to load a page,” she said.
“I had to use my own (mobile) data, which affected me later on because it ran out.”
Medium: In light of Covid-19, maybe it’s time we revisit the debate around the internet as a human right
If there’s one thing this crisis has made abundantly clear, it’s this: the internet is no longer a luxury, it’s now a necessity. We’re turning to the internet in record numbers to work, teach our kids, and inform ourselves of the latest public health news. It’s also helped make this whole thing just a bit more bearable. Whether it’s catching up with our friends over Facetime or easing our mind with the latest Netflix sensation, the internet has helped us maintain our collective sanity.
Unfortunately, for far too many Canadians, internet accessibility is still an issue. This is especially true for low-income Canadians and rural Canadians.