ACORN rallies in Surrey for affordable Internet rates

WHALLEY — ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) members rallied at Surrey’s City Centre Library and across the country asking for Internet rates to become more affordable.

Tabitha Naismith, chair of ACORN’s Surrey-Newton chapter, and a dozen members gathered outside the library on Thursday (Aug. 21) to raise awareness to the high cost of broadband Internet for low income and single-parent families.

"Our kids need the Internet for their homework. School fees are expensive already. The Internet is an expensive cost for us," Naismith said. "We want to see our kids get a good education so they can advance in their lives and not live in poverty."

ACORN is pleading with Internet providers and the Harper government to lower service rates to $10 per month so every Canadian can access the Internet.

Naismith said that most schools require students to use the Internet for homework, and it has become a burden on those who don’t have access at home.

They have to go to public libraries, which have time limitations and are often short computers. She said it is becoming an inconvenience for parents who may have several children to worry about.

"It’s a huge burden, especially for single moms on income assistance," Naismith said.

She added that mothers on income assistance get a reduced cheque if they are also receiving child support.

According to a release put out by ACORN, the CRTC’s (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) subsidy allocated $132 million towards ensuring Canadians can connect to a world-class communications system.

However, none of this money has been earmarked to help low-income, urban families access home broadband.

The release also stated nearly half of the lowestearning Canadians do not have home access to the Internet compared to 18 per cent of all Canadians.

Currently, Rogers has a two-year Internet plan that costs $20 per month with a $100 start-up cost. Telus and Shaw both have $30 plans.

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