Q1: What is the Connecting Families initiative?
A: In November 2018, the Government of Canada launched the Connecting Families initiative to help bridge the digital divide by ensuring more Canadian families can access home Internet. Through this initiative, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) participate voluntarily, without government subsidy, to offer $10/month home Internet packages with at least 10 Mbps download speed and 100 GB of data usage.
Q2: What improvements were recently announced?
A: In August 2021, the second phase of the Connecting Families initiative was announced. Connecting Families 2.0 improves upon the existing offer, adding a second offer that meets the national target of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload with a minimum of 200 GB of data usage for $20 a month. The new phase will also broaden eligibility beyond low-income families to include low-income seniors.
Q3: Who is eligible?
A: Families who currently receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and seniors who currently receive the maximum Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) are eligible for this initiative.
Q4: How do households access this offer?
A: Eligible households must 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. The access code will be valid for the entire duration of the initiative if the household remains eligible.
Q5: 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 for the initiative.
Q6: What happens if I lose my letter?
A: Individuals will need their code to participate in the initiative. If they lose their code, the program will not be able to issue a new code or letter. Individuals are encouraged to take a photo of their letter and keep it in a safe place.
Q7: What will families receive?
A: Participating Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will offer eligible households Internet services of at least 50/10 Mbps with at least 200 GB of data usage for $20 per month (plus tax), with no equipment or installation fees applied. The existing $10 plan will remain available to eligible households as an option.
Q8: When will the initiative be available?
A: The initiative will be available until March 2027.
Q9: How can I sign up if I do not currently have home Internet access?
A: Households that don't currently have Internet at home or need help signing up can visit a local library or community centre that offers public Internet access.
Q10: 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.
Q11: 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.
Q12: I am a low-income household, 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 visit www.connecting-families.ca where you can access the information needed to connect with a participating Internet Service Provider (ISP) in your area. If you don't have Internet at home or need help signing up, you can visit a local library or community centre that offers public Internet access.
Q13: 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 Internet Service Provider (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.
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, 2027. The eligibility of participants will be verified annually. Eligible households can continue to benefit from the initiative if they remain qualified.
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 (CCB) or the maximum Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), 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 is personal information safeguarded?
A: Extensive efforts were made to develop a secure process that adheres to privacy laws for the Connecting Families Initiative so the program office at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) does not receive any taxpayer information such as a list of names or addresses of the families who receive a letter.
Internet Service Provider (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.
Q19: How do I protect my privacy online?
A: For tips on how you can be safe online, visit getcybersafe.gc.ca.