Digital access and equity CCPA article

I wrote this piece on Canada’s digital equity and policy for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to coincide with the CRTC hearings on regulating access to Broadband speed. What is the best way to encourage learners, patrons and community member to write to the CRTC about the importance of Internet access, speed and affordability? Maybe a gathering or letter/email writing campaign in September?


ACORN Canada launches affordable internet campaign


Yesterday Canadians campaigned at CRTC offices across Canada to demand fair fees for Internet services. The CRTC has launched consultations into whether  Internet services should fall under its regulations for basic telecommunication services. ACORN, a national anti-poverty association, launched a National Day of Action to lobby the CRTC for a framework for basic Internet services that includes a $10 per month Internet. Arguing that access to the Internet is ‘no luxury‘, ACORN is calling for Internet services to be  regulated in the same way that CRTC has regulated telephone and cable services in the past, ensuring equitable access to basic services for all Canadians.

The CRTC is holding consultations with telecom providers this summer and with the public this fall, when Canadians effected by broadband access policies are invited to submit their views. According to #45 of the Notice of Consultation, the dates and processes for these public consultations have yet to be announced, but Internet access and affordability benefits from public scrutiny at any time.

CRTC hearings into Internet access and affordability

During the digital equity forum in May participants agreed it was important that adults and families with whom we work have an opportunity to share their experiences of digital equity with the CRTC during its consultations on basic Internet service.

The CRTC responded to our request for direction in how people may participate in the consultations and their response is posted below.  The gist of the CRTC process is that people can write to the CRTC during Phase 2 in the Fall. Texts in people’s own words, via email of traditional mail are welcome and preferred.  Submissions to the CRTC by way of interventions can be made by organizations in Phase 1.

This seems like a wonderful opportunity to make digital equity more visible. If you are interested in a collective letter writing campaign in the Fall, please reply to this post.

Here is the email response from the CRTC:

Any organization can encourage their clientele/participants/members to write into the Commission with his/her experiences and thoughts.  There is no specific/formal mechanism for doing this, but I would advise that it is always more impactful if individuals express themselves in their own voices – form letters, from my past experience, may not be as effective.

For those who do not have access to a means to file an intervention electronically, should mail their Interventions to:

Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2

Documents need to be received by 5:00 pm Vancouver time (8:00 pm Ottawa time) by the date of the close of the intervention period.

And it should be noted that interventions from individuals do not have to be long dissertations – just a description of their needs and experiences – providing details about challenges faced on the record is essential and as much detail about those challenges should be provided.

The intervention period for Phase 1 of this process has been extended to 14 July 2015 (announced in Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134-1,

This proceeding has been designed with two phases:

In phase 1, the Commission will review its policies regarding basic telecommunications services in Canada. The Commission will also gather information from the industry to better understand which telecommunications services are being offered across Canada and whether any areas in Canada are underserved or unserved.

In phase 2, which will be initiated in the fall of 2015, the Commission will ask Canadians to provide their opinions on the telecommunications services they consider necessary to participate meaningfully in the digital economy today and in the future. Specific details regarding the scope and procedure for this phase of the proceeding will be released at a later date.


Welcome to the BC Digital Equity Network site!

photo On May 15, 2015 over forty educators, librarians, community development workers, anti-poverty advocates and researchers from SFU and UBC Faculties of Education gathered at the UBC Centre for Digital Literacy to share experiences and solutions to digital inequality in BC.  We agreed that digital technologies are now essential to participate in education, find employment,  use government services, exercise citizenship rights, connect with families and communities and so on. But there is little in the way of research into digital teaching and learning or coordinated strategies or policies  to promote digital access. The goal of the forum was to develop an action and research agenda for digital equity in the Lower Mainland in BC. This is what we came up with! 1. Start an online forum to share resources, ideas, events and other happenings related to digital equity. (Tick that one off, welcome to this BC Digital Equity Network). 2. Support community members, library patrons, families and other constituents to participate in the CRTC basic telecommunication services review. This is in progress, while the Adult Literacy and Digital Inequalities project and ACORN Canada await a response from the CRTC about how Canadians with little digital access can participate in this review. 3. Create joint research projects to explore (these are just a few…)  Collaborative inquiry in the library: Librarians are deeply immersed in the daily work of digital access, teaching and learning and program design. They are responding to changing needs and creating spaces for ‘making’ and digital production. What are librarians learning? How can they share their practices with other librarians and the broader community? Government services online. What is going on with this? What needs to change? What is the role of design and democracy in offering government services online? Digital equity among youth in schools: What happens when students are given  homework but don’t have a working device or Internet access at home? How do low-income youth access opportunities for digital learning and production if these are not taught in school? (See Ron Darvin’s research with youth in East Vancouver). Digital teaching and learning: What is the relationship between digital and print literacies particularly for adults? Is there such thing as ‘basic digital literacy’? If so, what is it? How do the multimodality and materiality of digital tools shape learning? What does this mean for teaching digital literacies? What have I missed? The intention is that the Digital Equity Network will grow within and beyond the Lower Mainland and that we will continue to meet online and face to face. Please share this link with your own networks,  join as a contributor, suggest or share projects, ask questions! Suzanne Smythe, the ALDI project, SFU