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.
Nova Scotia ACORN member Darryl King talks to Sheldon MacLeod about ACORN's National Day of Action on the Internet for All campaign.
中低收入家庭權益團體「現在改革社區組織協會」(Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, Canada, 簡稱 ACORN Canada) 在去年6月1日至7月15日期間，透過網上和手寫問卷，訪問了全國394名中低收入人士，發現83.5%受訪者形容在家安裝互聯網的費用為「極高」；當中接近8%因而選擇不安裝或取消互聯網服務。另外58.9%表示因為他們需要互聯網，因此要在其他地方削減開支，包括食物(71%)、休閒活動(64%)和租金(13%)。