Access to the internet is essential. As daily life in our city increasingly requires connectivity, Toronto’s residents, visitors and businesses must be able to access and use the internet to its full potential. However, internet service options for residents and businesses vary throughout the city, both in terms of quality and pricing. There are also some infrastructure gaps, which result in lower quality connections. These inequalities reflect underlying disparities in infrastructure and market competition, impeding full economic and social inclusion. The digital divide in Toronto is a serious barrier to economic opportunity for residents and small businesses and a threat to the city’s long-term economic growth. City Council approved the ConnectTO program at its meeting on February 2, 2021.
Through generous donations, the Digital Canopy program was created to extend free public Wi-Fi to low-income neighbourhoods by connecting a number of large residential apartment buildings with access for one year to help bridge the digital divide in the pandemic.
In April 2021, a Youth Learning & Work Placement program was launched to provide 12 weeks of technology training to 15 young adults in the Digital Canopy public Wi-Fi communities. The City of Toronto partnered with the CEE (Careers Education Empowerment) Centre for Young Black Professionals to identify and onboard young adults through various outreach programs in those communities. The program is sponsored by the City of Toronto Youth Development Unit. The networking curriculum content and training support is donated by Cisco Canada. Facilitated by Toronto Public Library and George Brown College, the program includes Introduction to IoT (Internet of Things), Networking Essentials, and Introduction to Wireless, a Mentoring Roundtable with various panelists, and a virtual tour of the Cisco Innovation Centre.
Upon completion of the program, work placements will be arranged by the CEE Centre. Young adults who have successfully completed the program will be placed with an agency/company seeking resource(s) with skillsets acquired in the program. Continuous improvements will be applied throughout the program based on feedback, surveys and insights gathered. For more information on the Youth Learning & Work Placement program please visit the CEE website or email email@example.com.
The City hosted two information-gathering sessions on Thursday, May 20, 2021 and received comments through an online questionnaire related to the pre-tender for ConnectTO Phase 1. The staff presentation given at the information-gathering sessions is available for review.