Low-income families impacted by high cost of internet: Report

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Having internet access is proving to be a costly addition for many low-income families and ACORN Canada, a charitable organization is urging the federal government to act.

It presented a report called “digital equity” which it says should become a federal priority.

In the report, “Barriers to Digital Equity in Canada,” ACORN Canada says Canadians need online access to apply for jobs, complete schoolwork, download government forms, pay bills and connect with family and friends, and it argues that internet access has become a basic human right.

The high cost of internet in Canada is a well-documented problem that disproportionately impacts low and moderate income households, the report says.

Given that people now need to get online to navigate daily life, the report says the government is obligated to ensure affordable, fast and reliable internet access for all Canadians.

ACORN Canada wants the government to expand the scope of its Connecting Families program, which was launched in 2017-2018 to deal with digital inequality in Canada. The program is targeted at families that receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit.

The government has budgeted $13.2 million over five years to help eligible low-income Canadian families get home internet services for $10 per month through the program, which is conducted with the help of participating service providers.

ACORN Canada said it believes the program should be mandatory for the big telecommunications companies.

According to the report, telecommunications providers should set up programs to provide affordable, high-speed home broadband for low- and moderate-income Canadians.

If low-income families don’t have high speed internet at home, they run the risk of falling behind because if they are looking for jobs and other opportunities, they all exist on the internet and not having it leaves them at a distinct disadvantage. -CINEWS

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