Grandpa has entered the chat: Telus is getting more seniors online
The telecommunications giant is offering seniors high-speed, low-cost internet access.
It’s no secret that as the pandemic drags on, the mental health of Canadians has been negatively impacted. This is especially true among senior citizens, of whom as many as 33 percent have reported that their mental health has worsened.
Many people have gone online to stay connected to loved ones and their community, using platforms like Vancouver’s Tuktu for companionship and to engage with their neighbours. But access to an Internet connection is something many of us take for granted.
While most Canadians have relied on digital platforms to support their wellbeing and remain in touch with their loved ones during the pandemic, many low-income seniors face financial barriers, leaving them behind and unable to connect.
A new program from telecommunications giant Telus aims to change the situation. Through an initiative dubbed Internet for Good-Seniors, Telus is providing low-income seniors in B.C. and Alberta the ability to access low-cost, high-speed internet services in addition to digital literacy training. Eligible seniors and others who also qualify for the program can choose between two special unlimited data plans: one for $9.95/month or one with faster speeds for $19.95/month. Eligible seniors can apply on the Telus website.
It’s welcome news for the 411 Seniors Centre Society, which provides local and provincial programs and services to support vulnerable older adults in B.C. About a third of the centre’s members don’t have Internet access because they cannot afford it, explains David Handelman, a board member with the organization. “We are confident that this program will improve our members' lives by giving them access to services and information, and by helping them strengthen their social connections,” he says.
For some seniors, it’s less about high-speeds and more about high-savings. For those that were already spending funds on Internet services, they can now leverage the savings from the program and put it towards other essential services, says Nimtaz Kanji, director of community investment and corporate citizenship at TELUS. “This is really so much more than just giving them access to a discounted internet. It's actually giving them savings and helping them repurpose those savings for groceries, medications and things like that,” Kanji explains.
First launched in 2016, Internet for Good is available to more than 400,000 low-income families and people with disabilities as well as youth in B.C and Alberta. This latest expansion will impact an additional 415,000 eligible low-income seniors in B.C. and Alberta, according to Telus.