Cost of internet access for low-income earners needs to be lowered: ACORN

Many Canadians take surfing the net for granted, but not everyone can afford internet.

'We have a right to receive information and communication equally like anybody else'

Whether you're paying a bill, applying for a job, or just chatting with friends, chances are you'll use the internet to do it. The CRTC wrapped up the first phase of a major review into telecommunications yesterday. It's focusing a large part of its review on people's need to access internet, particularly in rural or remote communities.

Many Canadians take surfing the net for granted, but not everyone can afford internet.

The average Canadian pays between $50 and $60 a month for internet.

Now the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is reviewing whether or not broadband internet should be considered a basic communication service.

Reducing the cost of internet access would be welcome news to Charles Tossell, who visits a Greater Sudbury library several times a week to use the internet.

He's on a disability pension and, with about $600 a month leftover after rent, paying for internet at home isn't an option.

"I can't afford it," he said. "That's too much for people like myself on low income."

Tossell said he believes that all people should be able to access the internet from home.

Sudbury resident Charles Tossell visits the city library several times a week to use the internet. He's on a disability pension and doesn't have enough money to pay for internet service at home. (Elyse Allard/Radio-Canada)
Amber Slegtenhorst from ACORN Canada agrees.

The non-profit group  supporting low-income people is pressuring the CRTC to force internet providers to offer broadband service for $10 a month for low-income people.

"We have a right to receive information and communication equally like anybody else," said Slegtenhorst.

She said it's needed in places like northern Ontario.

"They may not have a vehicle. There may be a very limited bus service or [none] at all. So internet service is way more vital for people up north."

The CRTC wrapped up the first phase of a major review into telecommunications on Tuesday.

The agency will continue public consultation in the fall, and its review won't be completed until next spring.

"The CRTC's current policy ensures that Canadians in all regions have access to, at a minimum, a low-speed Internet connection," said Slegtenhorst.

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