Media release Poverty

PSA: Coast-to-coast phone-in action. Low-income Canadians demand affordable, fast and reliable internet amidst COVID-19

Contact ACORN staff Sydnee Blum at halifax1@acorncanada.org to get in touch with ACORN spokespeople

(Halifax, NS) ACORN Canada, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) have called for the Federal government, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Canada’s Internet service providers (ISPs) and Wireless Service Providers (WSPs) to do more for Canadians. 

ACORN and allies from BC to Nova Scotia are ramping up their campaign for affordable Internet with a Phone-In Action to provincial ISPs and the CRTC.

In Halifax, ACORN is calling on EastLink, Bell and Rogers to stop Internet cut-offs and agree to provide Internet at no cost to people in need during COVID-19.  

WHAT: COVID-19 PHONE-IN ACTION FOR AFFORDABLE INTERNET

WHEN: TUESDAY, APRIL 21ST FROM 12PM TO 2PM 

Tuesday just before 12PM please join the meeting here: https://bit.ly/internetforallaction 

To join you may need to download Zoom, so give yourself some time to get set up.

More details about the call-in as well as the phone numbers and script can be found on our Facebook page HERE.

Canadians urgently need unlimited Internet access and low-income Internet and wireless plans to help stay connected while isolating at home. 

While most ISPs and some WSPs have offered time-limited and service-specific measures to assist consumers with Internet and wireless connections, these are inconsistent between companies and there is a growing risk of Canadians being unable to afford these now essential lifelines to the outside world. 

Marjorie Pemberton, spokesperson for ACORN Nova Scotia, notes the vulnerability of low-income Canadians: “I am a senior on a fixed income and there are months where paying my Internet bill is a real challenge. Right now, I need the Internet to access health information, news, and keep in touch with people during isolation; the Internet helps curb the loneliness of not having children and grandchildren in our daily lives. As a senior living on Canada Pension, even before Covid 19, I could not afford to visit them and the Internet allowed me to message, check in on social media, and feel part of their lives. To me the Internet is a necessity.” 

She also notes the lack of support for seniors and low-income families; “We were living in poverty before the virus and very little is being done for seniors in way of emergency aid. As a vulnerable population, with complex health needs, I believe the Government has not done enough to lessen the effects of self isolation. I also live in Spryfield, and families in my neighbourhood are worried about going into debt or whether their kids can access homeschooling online if they can’t afford their Internet.”

In addition to unlimited data (no “data cap”) at no extra cost; prohibition of any “overage charge” for data use; price increases; and disconnection for non-payment, arrears or any other reasons without the explicit, individual, prior consent of the CRTC; ACORN is demanding free retail Internet access services for ALL low-income Canadians and fixed-income seniors. This should be made available during the “pandemic and recovery period” and for 6 months thereafter.

Marjorie Pemberton: “In times like these the Internet becomes more important for achieving the necessities of daily living, and staying healthy, physically, emotionally, and mentally. We need more support from the government and big Internet companies.”

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/254613759028917/?active_tab=discussion

ABOUT ACORN CANADA:

ACORN Canada is a national independent organization is an independent national organization of low- and moderate-income families with 130,000+ members in 20+ neighbourhood chapters across 9 cities. Our 2020 report on low-income Internet access in Canada will be available Tuesday, April 21st at: https://acorncanada.org/resource/internet-essential-service

For more details in Nova Scotia, please contact halifax1@acorncanada.org

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