- BC Games
ACORN protests for cheaper Internet access
Don Johnson has a computer, but he can't afford to connect it to the Internet.
So when the New Westminster resident, who's on a fixed income, wants to connect with his son in Mexico, he trudges to the library and waits up to 55 minutes to be able send and receive emails from a computer there. He also uses the library's free Internet connection to search for jobs, research causes he's interested in.
"I'm normally not a whiner, but I can't afford Internet," said Johnson, clutching a hand-written sign calling for lower Internet access rates outside the Burnaby headquarters of Telus. "I would love it if I could sit at my own computer in my apartment and get on the Internet."
Johnson was amongst about a dozen protestors from ACORN participating in the anti-poverty group's nationwide HORROR Action on Thursday to call for Canada's telecommunications companies to offer Internet access to low-income families for $10 a month and for the CRTC's new wireless Code of Conduct to provide greater protection to those who can't afford big Internet and cell phone bills. Similar protests were held in Gatineau, Halifax, Toronto and Ottawa.
The "digital divide excludes low-income individuals and families from what the United Nations now considers to be a human right, comparable with free speech," said an ACORN press release.
In fact, a survey of ACORN members found 55 per cent of respondents dissatisfied with their cell phone and Internet providers and 36 per cent of them said their monthly bill was $100 more than they expected.
"This issue is not just Internet access, but digital literacy," concluded the survey. "This has become a public policy obligation."
Johnson said he's just frustrated.
"There are Third World countries where the poor have better access to the Internet than in Canada," he said.