Although Toronto is home to the fastest internet in Canada, there remains substantial gaps in internet speed, affordability, quality and household access to internet-enabled devices. Such divisions are not spread evenly across the population, with lower-income and older residents more likely to not have access, or to have slower internet. A new survey and report by the Ryerson Leadership Lab and Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University, examines the depth of Toronto’s digital divide during the COVID-19 pandemic, by highlighting gaps that require greater policy and programmatic action.
Their report, “Mapping the Digital Divide in Toronto” used findings from an online and phone survey of 2,500 Toronto residents that found:
- 38% of Toronto households report home internet download speeds below the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s national target of 50 megabits per second (Mbps);
- Half of Toronto’s low-income households (52%) and of those aged 60 and older (48%) report download speeds below the national target of 50 Mbps;
- 34% of Toronto households are worried about paying their home internet bills over the next few months, with rates of worry greatest among low-income, newcomer, single parent, Latin American, South Asian, Black and Southeast Asian residents.
- Of the 2% of Toronto households not connected to home internet, half are not connected due to the cost, and 61% say it is impacting their ability to access critical services and information;
- 42% of those in Toronto without home internet access use the public library for access, compared to 16% overall;
- Toronto households earning under $50,000 have less than one computer for each person (average of 0.7 computers per person), lower than the national average of 1.0; and
- 15% of households with less than $20,000 income and 20% of those aged 60 and older do not have a smartphone.
“The digital divide in Toronto maps closely to other socioeconomic inequities. The pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to close gaps in connectivity to ensure access to work, education, services and information,” said Sam Andrey, Director of Policy and Research at the Ryerson Leadership Lab.
The full findings from Mapping Toronto’s Digital Divide are available at: brookfieldinstitute.ca/mapping-torontos-digital-divide. An anonymous survey was conducted online and by phone by Pollara Strategic Insights on behalf of the Ryerson Leadership Lab and Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship with 2,500 Toronto residents over the age of 16 from November to December 2020. As a guideline, a probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20 (95%). This project was made possible in part by funding from the City of Toronto.
For inquiries, please contact Sam Andrey, Director of Policy & Research at the Ryerson Leadership Lab, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-727-0959 or Nisa Malli, Workstream Manager, Innovative and Inclusive Economy, Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, at email@example.com.
The Ryerson Leadership Lab is an action-oriented think tank at Ryerson University dedicated to developing new leaders and solutions to today’s most pressing civic challenges. Through public policy activation and leadership development, the Leadership Lab’s mission is to build a new generation of skilled and adaptive leaders committed to a more trustworthy, inclusive society.
Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship is an independent, non-partisan policy institute, housed at Ryerson University. We work to transform bold ideas into real-world solutions designed to help Canada navigate the complex forces and astounding possibilities of the innovation economy. We envision a future that is prosperous, resilient and equitable.
|Ryerson Leadership Lab
@RULeadLab | firstname.lastname@example.org
|Brookfield Institute for Entrepreneurship + Innovation
@BrookfieldIIE | email@example.com