BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie believes a new federal program offering low-income seniors access to high-speed internet for 20-dollars a month only reaches a small portion of the population.
Mackenzie told Vista Radio that seven percent of seniors are receiving the maximum amount from the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
“To be on the maximum GIS, you’ve got an income of less than $20,000 per year. But, if your income is $22,000 that is not a lot either and you do not have access to this program.”
“It’s a very good first step.”
Mackenzie added libraries and senior citizens are critical places for our elderly to visit in terms of accessing the internet. But, once the pandemic hit in 2020, access to these facilities was pretty much nil as they were closed for a long period of time.
“When COVID first hit, all of those places were closed and that’s when it became more clearly understood about the challenges low-income seniors were having.”
“Affordability of the internet connection is what is creating the biggest barrier for lower-income seniors. Not, that I can’t afford the 300 or 400 dollars for the device, it’s I can’t afford the 80 dollars a month for my internet connection.”
The program will also be made available to low-income families who receive the max amount from the Canada Child Benefit.
It’s estimated 800-thousand households will be covered.
Ottawa says the initiative will be put together with Canada’s telecom companies.
Those eligible will receive a letter from the government, containing instructions on how to sign up.
– with files from Vista Radio news wire