OTTAWA, October 1, 2020 -- With the shift to online learning, millions of students need better digital infrastructure to succeed in their classes. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is hopeful that the Government of Canada’s $2 billion investment to connect 750,000 homes to high-speed broadband in underserved communities will significantly benefit post-secondary learners. Without this immediate investment, significant challenges will persist for many students, especially those in rural and remote communities, as they attempt to access their online education. The transition to digital learning requires robust internet connection for both instructors and students, and we are hopeful today’s announcement is the first step to increased rural broadband access throughout Canada.
“We are excited that the Federal government has launched a three-year plan and has expedited the process to connect Canadians with better broadband access,”, says Bryn de Chastelain, Chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. “At CASA, we continue to focus on ensuring that post-secondary students have access to a high quality education even during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A significant ‘digital divide’ exists today in Canada, where some areas (largely in or near urban centres) have far better access to a quality internet connection than others. In a 2016 report, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reported that only 64% of rural residents have access to broadband networks with sufficient speeds to support video conferencing, compared to 100% of urban residents. Accessing, and excelling in, digital learning environments is much more difficult for rural students, given their lower quality broadband access.
“We know that there are students who have to use public wifi in parking lots to participate in exams and submit their assignments,” explains Bryn de Chastelain, “this investment will hopefully bridge that gap and increase access to better broadband for rural learners.”
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a national voice for Canada’s post-secondary students. Established in 1995, CASA is a non-partisan, not-for-profit student organization composed of student associations from across Canada. We represent 23 student associations, and in a partnership with the Quebec Student Union (QSU) represent 365,000 students collectively to the federal government of Canada. CASA advocates for a post-secondary education system in Canada that is accessible, affordable, innovative and of the highest quality.
Akanksha Bhatnagar, Communications and Public Relations Officer
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations