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. Internet service providers participate voluntarily in this initiative, without government subsidy, to offer $10/month home Internet packages with at least 10 Mbps download speed and 100 GB of data usage.
The second phase of the Connecting Families initiative launched on April 1, 2022. Connecting Families 2.0 expanded eligibility for the program and meets the national target of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds. It also includes a minimum of 200 GB of data usage for $20 a month. The new phase broadened eligibility beyond low-income families to include low-income seniors.
Q2: Who is eligible?
A: Low-income families who currently receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and low-income seniors who currently receive the maximum Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) are eligible for this initiative.
Q3: 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 in order to sign up on the online portal. They can also call Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada at 1-800-328-6189 (voice); 1-866-694-6189 (TTY) for support with registering. The access code will be valid for the entire duration of the initiative if the household remains eligible.
Q4: Can households qualify for this initiative if they haven't received a letter?
A: No. Households must have received a letter from the Government of Canada with an access code in order to sign up for the initiative.
Q5: What happens if I lose my letter?
A: Individuals will need their access code to participate in the initiative. Individuals are encouraged to take a photo of the letter and keep it and the code in a safe place. If an individual has lost their letter or code, they should contact Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Contact Centre at 1-800-328-6189.
Q6: What will families receive?
A: Participating Internet service providers 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 $10 plan remains available to eligible households as an option.
Q7: When will the initiative be available?
A: The initiative will be available until March 2027.
Q8: 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. They can also call Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) at 1-800-328-6189 (voice); 1-866-694-6189 (TTY) for support in registering for the initiative.
ISED has also contracted Computers for Success Canada (CFSC), the program’s not-for-profit partner, to provide additional support for eligible households. The CFSC's Connecting Families call centre can be reached at 1-833-206-0599.
Q9: Who is paying for this?
A: The participating Internet service providers (ISP) 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.
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 received a letter from the Government of Canada, please visit the online portal, where you can access the information needed to connect with a participating ISP in your area. In order to register on the portal, you will need to provide your access code, full name and address.
Q11: 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, you are eligible to join the initiative. There are many participating ISPs across Canada, and you will see which ones offer service in your area. Once you’ve registered on the online portal and chosen an ISP to work with, that ISP will help you 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.
Q12: Will I be able to switch providers during the initiative?
A: Once individuals sign up for the Connecting Families initiative, they must stay with the Internet service provider (ISP) they chose. 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 ISP.
Q13: 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.
Q14: 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 that you no longer qualify for the initiative.
Q15: Will my Internet service provider (ISP) have access to more of my personal information than they would with 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 with 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 access code, address and a piece of valid ID to your ISP.
Q16: 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 does not receive any taxpayer information such as a list of names or addresses of the families who receive a letter.
Internet service providers (ISP) 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.
Q17: How do I protect my privacy online?
A: For tips on how you can be safe online, visit the Get Cyber Safe website.