People in Toronto are protesting for affordable internet
Demonstrators with the Toronto chapter of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) protested outside Bell Media Headquarters at Queen and John Streets in Toronto on Wednesday afternoon to demand affordable internet access for all, and eight other protests of a similar nature were also held in cities across the country.
Protestors took to the streets to call out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Connecting Families initiative, which is supposed to help eligible low-income families get home internet services for $10 per month. ACORN says the uptake of the program is currently just 5 per cent.
Taking up the streets in #Toronto at Bell HQ right now at Queen and John to demand #InternetForAll! #AffordableInternet Sign the online action now https://t.co/kNJhrY6ApW pic.twitter.com/5obbwNfxs7— Toronto ACORN (@TorontoACORN) October 28, 2020
The organization also says the program is ineffective because it is only offered to low-income families with children, is currently capped at 220,000 families, and eligibility is restricted to only those who get the maximum childcare benefit.
"The Trudeau government has committed to connect every Canadian to affordable high-speed internet by 2030, not only is that 10 years too late, but at the rate they are getting people connected it would be surprising [if] they hit that low target," said ACORN national spokesperson Alejandra Ruiz Vargas in a statement.
"Only 5 per cent of low-income parents have been able to enrol in the program? That's pitiful."
Uptake of Government's Connecting Families program stands at a dismal 5%! @JustinTrudeau has failed to regulate big telecoms.— ACORN Canada (@ACORNCanada) October 28, 2020
Millions still don't have internet!
Send a quick letter to @JustinTrudeau, @NavdeepSBains, & Telecoms, demand Internet for ALL: https://t.co/QllHtnXNre pic.twitter.com/po1qXA2IBb
ACORN also notes that Bell and Rogers were recently able to put the court's decision to slash wholesale internet rates on hold due to the pandemic, presenting yet another challenge in getting affordable internet access to all Canadians.
The organization has started an Internet For All campaign as a result, and they're urging Candians to sign a petition calling on the government and telecom companies to offer $10/month internet with 50/10 speed through the "Connecting Families" program to all low-income Canadians and fixed-income seniors.
The petition also calls on the feds and telecoms to improve affordability and accessibility for all customers by offering unlimited data at no extra cost, no overage charges for data use, no price increases, and no disconnection for non-payment, arrears or any other reason.
"I am a person on disability, who does not have the internet. During the pandemic, this has made life extremely difficult because of the social isolation involved, which is considered very unhealthy," said Ontario resident and ACORN member Ray Noyes in a statement.
"I do have a TV with a digital antenna and radio, so I get to hear a lot of talk about how important it is to have the internet during the pandemic for all kinds of access to information, government services and health services, including mental health."
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