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Ottawa ACORN demands cheaper internet fees for low-income citizens

Ana Gajic, from the Carleton School of Journalism for CFRA News

Ottawa ACORN supporters marched through the capital Thursday to raise awareness and support for cheaper internet plans.

ACORN member Jaye Rutter believes internet access is a necessity for job applications, studying and booking appointments, but many in the city can't afford the service that others rely on. Rutter said she hopes the march will encourage governments and service providers to take action and reduce internet costs to $10 a month for those in need.

"The government, or as well, the city, maybe could do something to protect the people of this city," she said. "Somewhere they've got to step up and do something for us."

The group's cause drew support from a variety of others in Ottawa. Frances Deverell, the president of the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, joined ACORN on their march; she said she decided to show support because people without internet are less likely to be successful in a society that uses the web as its primary method of communication.

"I know several people who don't have access to the internet except at the library," she said. "The library is a very good service and people do use it, but it's not the same. In this day and age, in instant communication, you can't go and check your email three times a week and have it be useful to you."

The councillor that oversees city hall's community and social issues committee admitted on Thursday that "there's universal agreement now that having internet connectivity is now a kind of a basic utility that's required by folks."

Bay ward representative Mark Taylor said the city often points people to its website for a variety of reasons and if they don't have access that's "a bit of a barrier."

But he isn't ready to back using solely public money so that people can have internet service for $10 a month.

"It's not something that I could, off the top of my head, see the city subsidizing with tax dollars. But I do think there's value having people connected.

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