100 signatures reached
To: Raymond Cho, Minister for Accessibility in Ontario
Make internet affordable for all living with disabilities in Ontario
This petition advocates for wider accessibility of affordable internet, particularly for those receiving ODSP. Ontario's Accessibility Minister, Raymond Cho, should address the urgent need for paid provision of internet or funding for internet for recipients of ODSP.
Currently, for many living with a disability in Ontario, accessing affordable internet is dependent on the willingness of (profit-driven) Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer a reduced rate.
The recent Connecting Families Initiative spearheaded by the ISED has resulted in ISPs expanding accessibility programs to low-income families and seniors. However, the programs that cater to qualifying groups (Canada Child Benefit or Guaranteed Income Supplement recipients) do not extend to all individuals receiving disability assistance. There are some exceptions: Telus's 'Internet for Good' does cater to those on disability, but it is only applicable to those on some provincial disability assistance programs (BC, Alberta, Quebec). Also exceptionally, there is Rogers’ 'Connected for Success' program, yet for some individuals who happen to fall outside of neighbourhoods serviced by Rogers’, there is no other ISP (Internet Service Provider) willing to offer a similar program. This is a gap that must be addressed.
Why is this important?
This issue was brought to my attention when learning that my Uncle Ken, who is living off of ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) due to his chronic disability of Multiple Sclerosis, cannot access affordable internet. Unfortunately, there is a significant lack of affordable internet options for those on ODSP or other similar provincial support programs across Canada.
For those who are already at a disadvantage, not being able to afford the internet leaves them more isolated and exacerbates their vulnerability.
To access virtual programs and services in the community, internet service is required. The people who need these services the most are the ones who cannot afford to participate. The safety and well-being of recipients and their families rests on their ability to access information, connect with loved ones, attend support programs virtually, as well as attend medical and other necessary appointments. There are peer support, social programs and counseling services currently offered virtually and these are a lifeline to those who live alone and suffer a disability. As the pandemic has shown us, access to the internet is essential and a human right.
At a time when MAID is free but the cost of living is so high, equitable access to services is essential if we are to value the lives of our most vulnerable.