“Many Canadians still face barriers that prevent them from participating in the digital world,” said a report by Deloitte Canada released on Tuesday. The company conducted an extensive study to paint a portrait of the country’s “digital equity”, meaning access to the internet and digital technologies, according to a variety of criteria.
Their results testify to a reality that is far removed from the utopia of the early days of the Internet, which was believed to be accessible to everyone at the time.
In the fall of 2021, Deloitte surveyed approximately 2,000 Canadians about their use of the internet and digital technologies and consulted with a panel of experts to determine the criteria for the study. For example, they analyzed access to bandwidth, affordability of devices, digital literacy, cyber security, online discrimination, as well as some other issues.
In particular, the study shows that certain communities, particularly Aboriginal people and people of color, are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to accessing the digital world.
“Certain demographic groups — for example, indigenous peoples, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, racialized people, recent immigrants, people with disabilities, and women — are more exposed because of economic disparities [d’inégalités] systemic and are therefore more likely to encounter obstacles to digital equality,” the report states.
Equipment costs remain one of the top economic issues raised in the paper: “Households earning less than $40,000 per year were twice as likely to cite equipment costs as a barrier [à l’accès au Web] than those earning more than $150,000 per year.
The importance of digital competence
Jaimie Boyd, Partner, National Leader, Digital Government at Deloitte, explains in an interview with The dutythat it is “no longer just about access to devices, but also about trust and education”. She adds: “If you are Indigenous in Canada, you are twice as likely to experience bullying online. As a result, Aborigines are much less motivated to engage in social experiences on the web. »
The Deloitte report shows that “only 44% of respondents under the age of 35 believe their education has prepared them to thrive in a digital economy” and that “almost half (47%) of respondents say that they don’t know resources to acquire digital skills”.
For this reason, Boyd also wants governments across the country to adopt “a broader definition” of digital justice. “The numbers we found are worrying,” she said, calling for better coordination between levels of government and increased collaboration with indigenous peoples.