High-speed Internet at $20 per month for low-income seniors, families to be announced

Eligible households must receive a letter from the government to enable them to apply for the program

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The federal government will announce a new phase for a program that will provide high-speed internet for $20 a month to low-income families and seniors across Canada.

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“Being connected is important to maintain professional, social, economic and cultural networks within the digital economy. However, many low-income Canadians still face barriers that prevent their full participation in the economy,” said François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry, in a press release.

The website for the Connecting Families initiative, which launched in November 2018, says it has helped 75,000 families access the internet as ISPs offer low-cost internet services to those who may not already be able to afford them.

According to the press release, there are 14 participating providers, including major players such as Telus, Bell Media and Rogers. The release says “hundreds of thousands” will be assisted by the program.

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This next phase of the program, announced Monday, will provide people with 200 gigabytes of data usage per month, with speeds of 50 megabits per second download and 10 megabits per second upload. It also expands the eligibility of families receiving the maximum Canadian child support – a tax-free payment to cover the costs of raising children – to seniors receiving the maximum guaranteed income supplement, a monthly payment to low-income seniors. (The existing plan, which offers a $10 per month Internet plan with slightly slower Internet and less data, will continue to be available.)

The government aims for 98 percent connectivity with fast internet by 2026 and 100 percent connectivity by 2030.

“Providing low-income seniors with affordable access to high-speed internet services will make a huge difference in their daily lives,” senior minister Kamal Khera said in a statement.

Eligible households, the release said, will receive a letter from the government to allow them to apply for the program.

Canada infamously has one of the highest internet (and cell phone) costs in the world. A 2019 report found that Canadian plans offering 100 gigabytes of data averaged around $80, compared to about $55 in the United Kingdom and about $62 in the United States.


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