ACORN Hamilton calls on the city to tackle the digital divide

Posted April 6, 2022

ACORN Hamilton held a press conference to release the results of our survey to members on the high cost of home internet and demands for the City of Hamilton to take action on the digital divide. 

The pandemic has demonstrated that the need for the internet is greater than ever and that governments need to take urgent action to provide affordable, high-speed internet to people who are struggling to connect. During the COVID-19 crisis, many low-income people are relying on the internet for school, work, food deliveries, telemedicine, communication with family and more. 

The efforts made by the federal government to address the barriers to digital equity remain far too limited. 

With progress stalled at the federal level and the urgency in low income Hamiltonians having access to affordable internet, ACORN Hamilton launched a survey in October 2021 to determine what problems exist in Hamilton surrounding internet affordability and accessibility and how these issues can be addressed at the municipal level.

East Hamilton chair Dayna Sparkes, Mountain co-chair Marnie Schurter and Stoney Creek member Anica Rak lead the press conference with downtown member Janicka Glasova and Stoney Creek chair Liz Scott sharing their experience with the high cost of internet. 

ACORN was joined by our allies the Hamilton Wentworth Elementary Teachers Local and Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion.

Our demands:

1. The City of Hamilton needs to create a city owned and controlled municipal broadband program.

  • Following the lead of other municipal jurisdictions and it’s own history of having a local network, the City of Hamilton has the power to address the digital divide by ensuring low and moderate income residents have access to affordable home internet through a city run and publicly owned service.

2. Expand free public WiFi to more of Hamilton's parks:

  • ACORN supports the expansion of Wi-FI to Hamilton parks. Since the program started in Gage Park in 2017, the expansion has been limited to adding two parks in 2022.
  • Any expansion should be focused on bring free Wi-Fi access to public parks in low income tenant communities

3. Free Wi-Fi access on HSR buses, bus terminals and the LRT

  • The pilot program for free Wi-Fi on select HSR buses was not continued or expanded. Offering internet access on public transit is an important step to expanding internet access to low income Hamilton residents.

Click here to read the full report and results of the survey

PRESS

Hamilton Spectator: ACORN wants to close the digital divide

Global News: Advocates urge city of Hamilton to make internet affordable for low-income residents

CHCH News Coverage - ACORN Internet Press Conference (VIDEO)

 

 

 

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