Want to close Canada’s digital divide? Grow the sector’s funding ecosystem

How the “digital philanthropy” landscape needs to grow and change, according to digital equity advocates

Why It Matters

COVID-19 has exposed just how important an internet connection is to people’s lives, but the funding ecosystem for digital access projects is in its infancy. The digital divide remains stubbornly wide: in rural communities, just four in 10 Canadians have access to high-speed internet. If philanthropists want to help close the gap, digital philanthropy will have to grow exponentially in Canada.

This story is in partnership with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). 

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, a group of 13 local municipalities wanted to find a solution to the inequitable access to high-speed internet in their region. 

The mayors and reeves were consistently finding that telecoms businesses and the federal government were failing to serve more rural areas, where there was a smaller customer base.

In Canada, only four in 10 people in rural communities have access to what the federal telecommunications regulator considers “basic” internet speeds, and internet performance data from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) shows that rural speeds are roughly ten times slower than urban speeds on


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