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Daily aspects of people’s lives are being increasingly touched by digital technology and those without access can be excluded from equal opportunities to education, employment and government services access. Access to internet should be an essential service and can be a key driver for improving social and economic wellbeing. During the pandemic, people with low income who are unable to afford a cell phone, data plan, or internet access suddenly have no way to get the services and resources they require. Food security, doctor’s appointments, mental health counselling, harm reduction supplies, safety, family connections, employment, education, supervised visits and housing all have become a challenge to access for people who have no source of digital connection.

Thriving Communities

Social connection to one’s community can lead to increased neighbourhood safety, a feeling of community support, strengthened resilience during emergency events, increased volunteering and a stronger sense of community pride.

Sense of Belonging

Canadians with a strong or very strong sense of community belonging are over twice as likely to report that their health is good as compared with people who have a weak or very weak sense of community belonging.

Keeping the Connection

When families are connected, they feel committed to their community and have a sense of “neighbourhood”. Children that stay connected are able to maintain relationships and transition trauma is minimized.

    We’re here to help

    Send a message to advocate for accessible internet and cellphone access to low-income and rural citizens

    Below we have created a prebuilt letter that allows you to place your information in and it will automatically place your information into the letter template and allow you to send the letter to the MP or MPP responsible for fixing this issue.

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    I am writing to you today as a member of the Child Youth and Family Services Coalition (Coalition) of Simcoe County to advocate for affordable connectivity and devices for low-income people. The Coalition is a countywide alliance of over 40 member organizations providing services to children, youth and their families in Simcoe County.  The Coalition acts collectively to support and strengthen child, youth and family services in Simcoe County. Its mission is to maximize the capacity, effectiveness and cultural uniqueness of the child, youth and family services system through collective efforts.

    {{your message}}

    The inequitable access to technology has always been an issue for people with low income. It has become more apparent in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that our community is inherently lacking in technological supports for our most vulnerable population. There are many people currently living in poverty, precariously housed and homeless who do not have access to the same resources that others in our community have. Organizations that provided access to computers and internet are no longer able to do so, or only in a limited capacity. In a time of uncertainty and potential crisis, this means having no way to reach out for assistance, nor the ability to be reached by family or community organizations if needed.

    While the homeless and unemployed rely on their ability to communicate (in person, via phone, &/or internet) to look for work and access essential services, the extraordinary circumstances in which we now find ourselves make it vitally important that up-to-date information concerning the COVID-19 virus, and the impact it’s having on local services, also be readily available to ensure everyone’s safety.

    Access to internet should be considered an essential service and a key driver for improving social and economic well-being. In fact, the United Nations considers digital access a basic human right!

    Following are recommendations that we would like to see enacted immediately in Simcoe County and across the country:

    • Free or low-cost internet access and/or additional WIFI hotspot availability throughout the County so that people have greater access to connectivity at outdoor parks, school parking lots, public spaces where social distancing can be maintained, as well as bus stops, and shelters.
    • Make cell phones with low-cost data plans, charging cords and SIM cards and/or computers/tablets available to those most vulnerable and at risk in communities across Canada.
    • Provide rocket sticks which will allow people to connect to the internet more easily.
    • Faster internet connectivity in rural and remote regions.

    Attached to this letter, you will find a position paper from the Coalition which speaks to the need for access to technology and connectivity through the provision of devices and low-cost broadband services for our most vulnerable populations. There is an overwhelming need to be digitally connected for on-line mental and physical health supports, food security, to apply for jobs, complete schoolwork, access to on-line government services, pay bills, and maintain connection to family and friends. It is especially crucial in this current environment when changes can occur in an instant. We look to the government to ensure that individuals are connected in a way they can afford and access.

    Sincerely,

    {{Your Name}}

    Coalition Member

    {{Your Organization}}

    c.c. CYFS Coalition

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    Online advocacy campaigns, anchored around raising awareness or mobilizing political and social support for new legislation, tie together a number of key forces facing our agencies:

    • The new importance (and necessity) of online engagement for our agencies
    • Surging public interest and awareness around missions related to social, economic, and public health issues
    • Increased digital engagement across the board amid social distancing and remote work

    These types of campaigns have always served as effective outlets for engagement. They facilitate important conversations, raise visibility for relevant causes, and deepen your relationships with supporters.