News this morning: Rogers is extending its low-cost internet service for low-income Ontario residents, food insecurity is widespread in Toronto, and the Toronto Zoo gets back its accreditation.
Rogers Communications is extending a program it began with Toronto Community Housing in 2013 to people in low-income housing across the province. People living in low-income housing are, through the Connected for Success program, offered internet service for $9.99 per month, rather than the significantly higher and, importantly, frequently shifting market prices. The low and consistent price allows people and families with constrained budgets to access what is increasingly a necessity for everyday life without worrying about how to pay for it. And because the program doesn’t run credit checks, people who may have had their service cut off when their bills were higher can still access the program. While 91 percent of Canadians have internet in their homes, that number drops to 71 percent among people with annual incomes below $25,000.
A recently released report found that one in eight Toronto households in 2014 experienced “food insecurity,” which includes using food banks as well as worrying about how to pay for food, and constricting how much you eat to stretch your food and budget. The national average of food-insecure citizens is 12 percent, which is slightly lower than Toronto’s 12.6 percent. Rachel Gray of The Stop Community Food Centre said that for every person who visits a food bank, there are likely four or five who don’t make it in, be it from pride, a sense that they aren’t in enough need, an inability to pay for transportation, or any number of other reasons. In nearly two-thirds of all Canadians homes experiencing food insecurity, at least one person is employed, which points to the struggles many Canadians are having maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the current economy.
The Toronto Zoo has regained its international accreditation after it was stripped four years ago over the controversial transfer of three elephants to a California sanctuary. City Hall decided in 2012 to move Iringa, Toka, and Thika to the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary in California despite protest from zoo staff, who wanted the animals sent to an accredited facility. Bob Barker, former host of The Price Is Right and noted animal-rights activist, paid for their transfer. Iringa died last summer of a degenerative disease, but Toka and Thika are still alive and at the sanctuary.