Canada announces new $20 high speed internet plan for people who need it the most

Affordable, reliable internet access is an absolute necessity for anyone living in Canada (or living anywhere, if you ask the United Nations.)

It’s been this way for some time now, and yet, with some of the most-expensive telecom rates on earth, many people in this country still can’t afford home internet, let alone service that’s fast enough to handle all of their everyday tasks.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven in spades how reliant we are as a society upon digital technologies for work, school, entertainment, socialization and even healthcare services, and it continues to highlight the importance of these tools for people who are isolated and vulnerable.

Sadly, those who are the most vulnerable — particularly senior citizens and low-income families — often have trouble keeping up with the cost of reliable home internet service, which here in Toronto can run well upwards of $100 a month.

“Now more than ever, Canadians need access to reliable Internet, yet many struggle to pay for it,” announced the federal government to that effect in August of 2021 when revealing a new plan to “connect hundreds of thousands of low-income seniors and families to affordable high-speed home Internet in 2022.”

That plan has now come to fruition, according to Canada’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, which on Monday confirmed that letters are now being sent out to eligible households with access codes.

“Through the Connecting Families initiative, the Government of Canada, in partnership with 14 Internet service providers (ISP), is supporting affordable high-speed Internet for those who need it most,” reads a government release issued Monday.

“In partnership with 14 participating ISPs across the country that are voluntarily contributing to the initiative by offering $20 a month high-speed Internet services, the Government of Canada will help connect hundreds of thousands of low-income families and seniors to affordable high-speed Internet.”

For that $20 per month service fee, participants in the Connecting Families 2.0. program will have access to internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (mbps) for downloads and 10 mpbs for uploads. Participants will have a data allotment of up to 200 GB per month (up from 100 GB under a previous version of the initiative.)

“This new phase will also broaden eligibility from families receiving the maximum Canada Child Benefit (CCB) to include seniors receiving the maximum Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS),” notes the press release.

Not sure if you’re eligible? You’ll know soon enough, if a letter from the Government of Canada arrives at your home with an access code needed to sign up for Connecting Families. Officials say each access code will be valid for the entire duration of the program, so long as a household still meets the criteria.

“Being connected is important to maintain professional, social, economic and cultural networks within the digital economy,” said Canada’s Minister of Innovation, François-Philippe Champagne, on Monday. “By working closely with Internet service providers across the country, we are increasing accessibility and providing all Canadians with affordable and reliable Internet.”

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