Canadian consumers demand $50 broadband benefit during COVID, like in U.S.

OTTAWA – 12 January 2021 – Consumer, seniors and low-income groups today demanded the Canadian federal government create a $50 a month “Canadian Broadband Benefit” (CBB) during the remainder of the COVID-19 emergency. This payment would simply reduce internet bills by $50 a month for low-income Canadians, seniors on fixed incomes and for those Canadians qualifying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit due to reduced income.  The Canadian Broadband Benefit would largely parallel the $USD 50 benefit recently approved in Congress for needy Americans in the United States.

The groups include ACORN Canada (ACORN), the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). Together the groups represent over a million Canadians and advocate for many more who are similarly situated.

“There is just as much need for broadband during a pandemic in Canada as there is in the United States, but our Parliament, the CRTC and the Internet companies have done little to help,” said John Lawford, Executive Director of PIAC. Internet companies in Canada offered a free data overage no disconnections from March to June 2020 and then restored usual prices.

“Our members are suffering a triple burden of COVID-lockdowns and loss of income, possible evictions and now potential Internet cut-offs, while governments somehow expect them to pay the full price for expensive Internet in order to stay safe and stay home, to teach their kids and to get healthcare, all online,” added Alejandra Ruiz-Vargas, National ACORN Leader.

“Seniors need Internet. They need to connect with loved ones, get support from their family and the community, access health services and support and encourage other generations. They are facing isolation and the high cost internet increasingly is making them choose between connection and isolation,” noted Trish McAuliffe, President of NPF.

All three groups previously called on the federal government, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to create a low-cost Internet plan or to reduce prices during the pandemic but that call went unanswered and indeed even unaddressed.

The groups called specifically upon the ISED Minister to bring the “Canada Broadband Benefit” up with Cabinet urgently and to work with ISPs and the CRTC to achieve it.

“Keeping Canadians calm, safe and connected means giving them broadband,” Lawford stated. “This benefit will not cost the industry anything and ensures crucial service in a pandemic – this is a time to follow the U.S. on one pandemic thing that they did absolutely right.”

For more information on the proposed “Canada Broadband Benefit”, please read the attached backgrounder on the proposed CBB and for comment or more information, please contact:

 

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

 

John Lawford

Executive Director and General Counsel

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

(613) 447-8125

jlawford@piac.ca

 

ACORN Canada

 

Judy Duncan

Head Organizer

ACORN Canada (ACORN)

416-461-5322

canadaacorn@acorncanada.org

www.acorncanada.org

 

National Pensioners Federation

 

Trish McAuliffe

President

National Pensioners Federation

905-706-5806

Trish.mcauliffe@npfmail.ca

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