Frequently asked questions: Connecting Families

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Q1: What is the Connecting Families initiative?

A: The Connecting Families initiative has been designed to connect hundreds of thousands of low-income Canadian families to the Internet. Participating Internet Service Providers are voluntarily contributing to the initiative by offering $10 Internet service (plus tax) to eligible families who currently receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit.

This initiative will also provide up to 50,000 computers to eligible families who need it most through the Government of Canada's existing Computers for Schools program.

Q2:Who is eligible?

A: Families who currently receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit are receiving letters enabling them to participate in this initiative. The initiative was designed to connect the lowest-income families to the Internet.

Q3: When will the initiative be available?

A: The initiative will be available until March 2022.

Q4: What will families receive?

A: Through this initiative, participating Internet Service Providers will offer eligible families Internet services with at least 10 Mbps download speed (or the fastest available if less than 10 Mbps) and a minimum of 100 GB of data usage for $10 per month (plus tax), with no equipment or installation fees applied.

Q5: How do families access this offer?

A: Families who currently receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will receive a letter from the Government of Canada. This letter will contain an access code that they will need to sign up for the initiative through a secure online portal. The access code will be valid for the entire duration of the initiative if the individual remains eligible for the CCB. However, access to the discounted Internet or a computer will depend on availability.

Q6: Can families qualify for this initiative if they haven't received a letter?

A: No, families must have received a letter from the Government of Canada with an access code in order to sign up through a secure online portal. This is the only way to sign up for this initiative.

Q7: Why is this initiative being offered?

A: The Connecting Families initiative will provide more Canadian families with access to the valuable resources available on the Internet and ensure students have the tools they need to succeed in school.

Currently, 1.2 million Canadian children live in povertyFootnote 1 and only one third of the lowest-income families have the Internet at homeFootnote 2. Most teachers now also assign homework that requires Internet access and students with Internet access at home generally have a higher rate of graduation compared to those withoutFootnote 3.

Q8: Who is paying for this?

A: The participating Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are voluntarily contributing to the initiative by offering low-cost Internet service to eligible families. The government is not subsidizing ISPs to provide the low-cost Internet service.

The Government of Canada is investing $13.2 million to refurbish and deliver up to 50,000 computers to eligible families who need it most, and develop a secure online portal through which eligible families can sign up for the initiative and access the low-cost Internet service and/or a refurbished computer.

Q9: Will there be a limit on the number of customers who can participate?

A: Up to 220,000 eligible families could sign up for this initiative.

Q10: I am a low-income Canadian, should I call my local Internet Service Provider (ISP) to register for this initiative?

A: No. If you have received a letter from the Government of Canada, please make your way to www.connecting-families.ca where you can access the information needed to connect with an ISP in your area.

Q11: Do newcomers to Canada qualify for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and can they participate in this initiative?

A: People who are residents of Canada for tax purposes with at least one child under 18 years of age are eligible for the CCB. Those that currently receive the maximum CCB could be eligible for this initiative.

Q12: I am currently in a contract with my existing Internet Service Provider (ISP). Can I still join this initiative? Will I have to pay a cancellation fee or early termination fee?

A: If you receive a letter from the Government of Canada with an access code and choose to sign up, your ISP will work with you on an individual basis to access the discounted Internet service. If you are currently on a contract with your ISP or received a promotional offer, you may be required to pay the remaining value of that offer or contract.

Q13: Can I get a higher speed and pay the difference, or a larger data bucket?

A: Each Internet Service Provider determines the speeds and data available to customers eligible for the initiative. The minimum download speed is 10 Mbps (or the fastest available if less than 10 Mbps) and minimum data is 100 GB per month.

Q14: Will I be able to switch providers during the initiative?

A: Changing providers is not allowed for the duration of the initiative. Switching providers is only permitted if you move to a location that is not served by your current service provider.

Q15: How long is the initiative being offered and what happens if my income is different from year to year?

A: The Connecting Families initiative is being offered until March 31, 2022. The eligibility of participants will be verified annually.

Q16: Will I be notified if I no longer qualify for this initiative?

A: If you are receiving discounted Internet services through this initiative, but are no longer eligible for the maximum Canada Child Benefit, you will be informed either by letter, e-mail or SMS that you no longer qualify for the initiative.

Q17: Will my Internet Service Provider (ISP) have access to more of my personal information than they would in a regular Internet service contract?

A: No, ISPs are not responsible for determining eligibility and will not have access to any additional personal information than they would in a regular Internet service contract. The protection of customers' privacy is very important to the Government of Canada and the ISPs participating in the initiative. If you decide to participate in the initiative you will need to provide your address and a piece of valid ID to your ISP.

Q18: How do I request a home computer?

A: Subject to availability, eligible families will be able to request a computer through the online portal. The Internet Service Providers are not responsible for the delivery of computers.

Note: Due to the high demand, computers are being prioritized for families who currently do not have a home Internet connection. The option to order a computer will only be available to these families.

Q19: When will I receive my computer?

A: While the initiative will try to ship computers as quickly as possible, we cannot guarantee a delivery time. We recommend waiting to set up your home Internet services until after you have received your computer to avoid unnecessary expenses.

Q20: How do I protect my family's privacy online?

A: For tips on how you can keep your families safe online, visit getcybersafe.gc.ca.

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