Metro News: Low-income families protest in Ottawa for more affordable Internet

Ottawa activists representing low-income families rallied in front of the Ottawa Public Library Thursday to raise awareness about their lack of affordable Internet access.

It was part of a nation-wide campaign led by ACORN Canada, in its bid to convince the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to lower prices for low-income families, specifically those in urban areas.

The group said families shouldn’t have to send their kids to libraries just to get online.

“I feel it’s a necessity to have access, to be able to utilize the Internet for homework purposes, for knowledge purposes,” said Leeann Gate, who marched with her daughter and about a dozen protestors from the library to Parliament Hill.

“It can be overwhelmingly expensive. Without that Internet I feel that my child is without a necessity to further her education.”

Gates’ 15-year-old daughter Cassie said last year she had to go to the McCann Clubhouse on McArthur Avenue — which is part of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa — to access the Internet for school work.

“I’m hoping to get a job soon so I can help my mom out to pay for Internet. Because it’s really hard for her on her salary to pay these bills,” said the Grade 9 student.

ACORN said the CRTC’s subsidy regime in 2012, which allocated $132 million towards ensuring Canadians connect to a “world-class communications system,” failed to help low income urban families access home broadband Internet.

Robert Fitzpatrick, 26, who moved to Ottawa from the U.S., said he pays approximately $75 per month for Internet from Bell.

“For someone like me who’s on ODSP, who’s an immigrant, I need to be able to be connected, stay connected, but it’s so expensive,” he said.


Article by Joe Lofaro for Metro News

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