Ottawa anti-poverty advocates say Rogers Communications Inc. should go beyond offering basic internet services to people in non-profit housing and instead expand the service to all people living in poverty.
On Thursday Rogers said it was expanding a program it already offers in Toronto to tenants in non-profit housing developments across the country, granting them basic internet access in their home for $9.99 a month.
Rogers said 1,100 residents in rental units owned by three non-profit housing groups in Ottawa, including the Centretown Citizens Corporation, will get discounted internet to start.
Since the launch of our Internet for All campaign at our 2013 National Convention, we have been continually working hard to get affordable internet rates for low-income Canadians. We’ve had some success - Rogers has started providing $10 a month internet for residents in Toronto Community Housing, and federal regulators are now in the process of conducting a review looking at high-speed internet, affordability and access. And we need to keep the pressure on!
Our tireless efforts to make Internet for All Canadians a reality have ensured that 10 of our members will be presenting at CRTC’s public hearing on April 14 to explain why broadband internet should be affordable for Canadians. Their testimony will draw from personal experiences, letting these decision makers know how vital yet unaffordable home internet is.
Low-cost Internet service for tenants in Toronto public housing is being expanded to social housing communities across Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, the Star has learned.
The $9.99-a-month program offered by Rogers Communications, will be available to more than 150,000 low-income households everywhere the company provides Internet services starting this month.
The telecommunications giant is making the announcement at a non-profit housing building in Ottawa Thursday.
Advocacy group ACORN Canada says some low-income Canadians are having to take money from their rent and food budgets to pay for the Internet.
The group, which represents low- and moderate-income families, surveyed nearly 400 of its members and found more than 80 per cent of them consider home Internet prices to be “extremely high.”
More than half said they took money from other budget items, like food, rent or recreation, to pay for Internet access because they consider it an essential service. In most cases, money was shifted food purchases to cover Internet bills.
Imagine trying to find a job, use a government service, sign up for a course or stay in touch with friends and family without ready access to the Internet.
It would be close to impossible. Society has gone online, and anyone without reliable, fast Internet service risks being left in the dust.
For too many low-income people, that’s exactly what’s happening. Either they do without, and find they can’t fully participate in public life. Or, as the advocacy group ACORN described this past week, they pony up for Internet while making a cruel trade-off with other basics like food and rent.
This is part of the infamous “digital divide” that separates those who are fully part of the online world and those who have fallen behind. In Canada in 2012, 98 per cent of the wealthiest households had fast Internet connections at home, compared with only 58 per cent of those with incomes of less than $30,000. Children are potentially among the biggest losers, unable to keep up at school.