Fund Internet Services for People on Financial Assistance in Ontario

Fund Internet Services for People on Financial Assistance in Ontario

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Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST) started this petition to Premier Doug Ford and

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues, our dependence on the Internet has increased dramatically.  Free, public WiFi access - from libraries to coffee shops - has been severely reduced or completely eliminated. Even when they are operating in full capacity, they are not appropriate for private or confidential meetings with doctors, lawyers, mental health professionals, etc. 

The CRTC confirms what we all know,  it is important for all Canadians to be able to connect to quality Internet services at affordable prices.  

People on financial assistance in Ontario (Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Plan) live significantly below the poverty line, a gap that continues to grow. Most do not have enough money to cover their groceries and their rent. Paying for the Internet is not even an option to consider. For those on financial assistance in the province, there is no affordable Internet price. 

In Ontario, there are over 200,000 families with children whose parents / guardians are on Ontario Works. The impossible cost of Internet access and the loss of Free public WiFi means these children are severely limited in  their ability to do homework - and completely left out of any option of attending school online. 

Beyond education, during Pandemic times, Internet connectivity is necessary for everyone to access medical and mental health support, maintain relationships, stay connected and find information.

While there may be some lower cost Internet options in urban areas, in Northern Ontario, Internet prices sky rocket to $100 a month or more, an impossible price for many, and particularly those on a fixed income. This is ironic because in Northern communities, virtual access to services is even more important. 

It should be noted, Ontario Works administrators (workers) are not allowed to cover the cost of the Internet for their recipients, even if they wanted to. For example: 

The Ontario Works Directive 7.4: Employment and Participation Benefits states Internet costs could be covered under Employment-Related Expenses, but to be eligible, the recipient must be participating in employment assistance activities. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities are not employed and therefore cannot access internet costs under this directive. 

The Ontario Works Directive 7.7: Other Benefits states that discretionary funding is not intended to cover costs associated with ongoing payments. Funding may be provided to cover one-time exceptional costs at the discretion of the worker. This excludes the option of covering monthly Internet costs.

We call on these Directives to be amended that Internet costs be included in the Discretionary Fund Directive for Ontario Works and ODSP recipients in Ontario immediately.

In 2021, Internet access is a right and everyone - regardless of their income - should have.

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!