Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

INEQUALITY

The pandemic has exposed the GTA’s digital divide

With about a quarter of Ontario parents planning to keep their kids home this fall, GTA school boards are rushing to plug the city’s digital divide, May Warren reports. While most families are digitally connected, many have only one or two devices per household and lack adequate internet to support e-learning.

  • Context: The Toronto, Catholic and Peel school boards have provided devices to students who need them, but the Peel board’s devices are not equipped with data to access the internet.
  • Word from Queen’s Park: The government is allocating $15 million in “technology funding” to help get devices to Ontario’s students. The Tories also promised to ensure students have access to reliable high-speed internet by the 2021-22 school year.
  • Why it matters: A lack of digital connection, coupled with barriers to childcare, is pushing parents to send their kids to school even if they don’t feel it’s the safe choice. “The option to keep your kids home is a privilege,” said one advocate.