Affordable high-speed Internet for low-income seniors and families
August 11, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario
Now more than ever, Canadians need access to reliable Internet, yet many struggle to pay for it. Through the Connecting Families initiative, the Government of Canada is supporting affordable Internet service for those who need it most.
Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors, announced the second phase of Connecting Families, which will help connect hundreds of thousands of low-income seniors and families to affordable high-speed home Internet in 2022.
Connecting Families 2.0 is introducing significantly faster speeds and increasing the data usage amount. At 50/10 megabits per second (Mbps), the download and upload speeds will be five and ten times faster respectively than Connecting Families 1.0, with 200 GB of data usage for $20 a month. This new phase will also broaden eligibility from families receiving the maximum Canada Child Benefit (CCB) to include low-income seniors. The previous Internet plan offering under Connecting Families 1.0 will also remain available. Access Communications, Bell Canada, Cogeco, CSUR, Hay Communications, Mornington, Novus, Rogers, SaskTel, Tbaytel, TELUS, Vidéotron and Westman Communications are all participating in offering improved Internet quality, coverage and price to eligible Canadians.
The Government of Canada announced Connecting Families 1.0 in Budget 2017—an investment of $13.2 million over five years to help close gaps in Internet affordability and accessibility. This funding enabled the government to partner with Computers for Success Canada to provide computers to low-income Canadians at no cost through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s long-standing Computers for Schools Plus (CFS+) program, and to develop a secure online portal through which eligible Canadian families could access low-cost Internet service packages from Internet service providers that voluntarily participated without government subsidy. Over 75,000 families have benefited to date.
The Connecting Families initiative aligns with Canada’s Digital Charter, a principles-based approach to building trust in the digital world. The first principle of the Charter is focused on ensuring that all Canadians have equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and the necessary tools to do so, including access, connectivity, literacy and skills.
“Being connected is important to maintain professional, social, economic and cultural networks within the digital economy. However, many low-income Canadians are still facing barriers that prevent their full participation in the economy. By working with Internet service providers across the country, we are increasing accessibility and providing all Canadians with affordable and reliable Internet.”
- The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
“Seniors depend on the Internet to stay in touch and access vital services. Providing low-income seniors with affordable access to high-speed Internet service will make a tremendous difference in their everyday lives. We’re grateful to leading Internet service providers for their partnership in making the Internet more accessible to all Canadians.”
- The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors
The government is pleased to be partnering on Connecting Families with Access Communications, Bell Canada, Cogeco, CSUR, Hay Communications, Mornington, Novus, Rogers, SaskTel, Tbaytel, TELUS, Vidéotron and Westman Communications.
With Connecting Families 2.0, eligible participants will have an added Internet offering: 50 Mbps download speeds (or if less than 50 Mbps, the fastest speed available to households in that region) and 200 GB of data usage each month at the discounted rate. No equipment or installation fees will be applied.
Eligible households will receive a letter from the Government of Canada. This letter will contain an access code that is needed to sign up for Connecting Families through a secure online portal. The access code will be valid for the entire duration of the initiative, provided the household continues to be eligible. However, access to the discounted Internet offering or a computer will depend on availability.
Today’s announcement builds on several other steps the government has taken to improve telecom services for Canadians, including the historic ENCQOR 5G partnership for next-generation technology, the Connect to Innovate program, the $2.75-billion Universal Broadband Fund and the CRTC’s $750-million Broadband Fund.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
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