With many seeing online connectivity as an essential human right, digital equity is crucial to our society, economy and democracy. However, digital inequity has become a serious problem in communities across the country, as millions of Canadians lack even the basics required to connect. Markets and governments have especially failed Northern, rural and Indigenous communities, as well as numerous underserved populations where infrastructure and investment has not materialized in a meaningful way.
Digital equity is the condition where everyone has enough information technology capacity—connectivity, skills and policy influence—for full, meaningful participation in our society, economy and democracy, including access to affordable, high-quality internet wherever they are.
The benefits of digital equity are broad and deep, and can be transformative at many levels. Here are a few examples of how it can affect the everyday lives of Canadians:
- Poverty alleviation and higher standards of living that result from access to education, employment and other opportunities.
- Online access to health services, leading to improved physical and mental health.
- More participation by rural and remote households in our society, economy and democracy.
- Decreased exploitation and predatory behaviour, and increased safety for children, youth and at-risk adults.
While funders may see addressing digital equity gaps as largely the responsibility of government or industry, there are roles for philanthropy to advance the social impacts they seek—and more funders are seeing these roles.
This guide is for funders who are new to digital equity and for anyone who wants to gain an understanding of why and how to fund in this space.
- Opportunity for deeper connections among Canadians across vast geographies.