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The digital divide is by no means just an American problem. 

It is a borderless phenomenon that impacts over 3.7 billion people’s ability to do things like access essential public health services, pursue an education, or access jobs on the digital marketplace. 

However, one country that is leading the way in connecting its citizens to digital opportunities online is our neighbor to the north: Canada. 

Canada has made incredible strides in its fight against the digital divide – but there is still work to do

Through a combination of government funding initiatives and innovative public-private partnerships, Canada has increased the percentage of Canadians with access to high-speed internet from 79% in 2014 to 93.5% in 2022. While Human-I-T applauds this progress, we also recognize that affordability – not access – is now the biggest barrier to most Canadians’ trying to get online. Unfortunately, Canada’s high internet prices means that the digital divide disproportionately affects rural, low-income, Canadians from minority communities. 

Map: Chris Brackley/Can Geo; Data: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Clearly there is still much work to be done in ensuring that every Canadian can access opportunities online. That’s why Human-I-T is grateful for partners like Visa Canada, whose own passion for promoting digital financial equity allowed us to finally expand our mission of driving digital equity across the globe. 

Human-I-T is helping Visa Canada connect Canadians to the digital resources and support they need

On Thursday, October 27, Human-I-T joined Visa in Toronto to launch Visa’s Digital Empowerment pilot program. Following a brief fireside chat about digital equity with Visa and Toronto-based community organizations, Human-I-T distributed 50 Chromebooks to Canadian newcomers. After distributing these devices, Human-I-T led a workshop for the recipients which covered the basics of operating a computer and accessing the internet. 

“Human-I-T is thrilled to collaborate with Visa to bring newcomers in Toronto critical digital inclusion support they need to achieve their goals in a new city,” said Allie Butkiewicz, Human-I-T’s Senior Vice President of Development. “Through the kick-off event, we were able to provide a hand-up to 50 newcomers by providing them with a personal Chromebook, complete with warranty & technical support, and access to Human-I-T’s digital literacy course and Visa’s financial literacy course.”

Senior Vice President of Development, Allie Butkiewicz, assisting recipients with setting up their new devices

By its conclusion, the Digital Empowerment program will allow for over 400 devices to be distributed to non-profit organizations in Toronto assisting Canadian newcomers. Through this program, these newcomers will have the digital resources and support they need to unlock their potential in their new communities while staying connected to loved ones back home. Being able to make these types of global impacts is only possible because of one thing: a growing consensus from organizations like Visa that digital equity goes hand-in-hand with social equity. 

“Digital equity is the gateway to unlocking one’s full potential. Our collaboration with Visa empowers individuals and households to get and stay connected,” said Gabe Middelton, CEO and co-founder of Human-I-T. “As one of America’s leading digital inclusion practitioners, Human-I-T is proud to showcase the impact that creative collaboration and innovation can bring to communities left on the wrong side of the digital divide across the globe.”

Lo Terry

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