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Government Internet Affordability Program Helps Some, Ignores Others

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today reacted to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains’ “Connecting Families” agreement with industry to provide affordable Internet access for low-income families with some hope and much concern.

“Today’s announcement of a voluntary $10 Internet service from major Internet companies for low-income families is helpful for those Canadians and welcome,” noted John Lawford, PIAC’s Executive Director and General Counsel. “However, there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians without children who desperately need affordable broadband internet who are left out of this program for no clear reason, other than cost,” he added.

The participating Internet service providers (ISPs), including Bell Canada, TELUS, Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco, Videotron and Sasktel, have publicly committed to continuing the service until 2022. However, there is no regulatory requirement to do so and no guarantee service will be extended to Canadians without children under 18, nor that any other ISPs will participate.

“This is half a loaf offered to only some low-income Canadians and not to others. While better than nothing, this ‘political solution’ is the direct result of the CRTC refusing to create a fair and equitable subsidy to support affordable Internet for all low-income Canadians,” stated Lawford.

PIAC, along with ACORN Canada and the National Pensioners Federation previously asked the CRTC to reconsider a low-income Internet affordability subsidy but the CRTC recently denied their request.

For more information, please contact:

John Lawford

Executive Director and General Counsel

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

(c) 1-613-447-8125

jlawford@piac.ca

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