Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Province to expand smart phones program for the homeless and at risk to Prince Rupert
Minister Shane Simpson introduced the expansion plans earlier this month, noting how the limitations of COVID-19 on local infrastructure and services has made the need to gain access to information an important thing for those at risk.
“The need for internet connectivity has never been as important as it is right now. For people who are experiencing homelessness, the closing of public spaces like libraries due to COVID-19 has reduced connectivity options and created barriers to supports and services. Providing smartphones for people on the street will help create easier access to those services, help people maintain physical distancing, and support people in staying connected to family and friends during this time.”
The program is hosted through the Homelessness Community Action Grant and is operated in a partnership with 7-Eleven and the Social Planning and Research Council of BC, known as SPARC BC.
They have secured 3,500 smartphones for distribution in communities across the provinces, to be delivered by community organizations which provide services and support for vulnerable people.
The phones are able to connect to Wi-Fi and come pre-loaded with a $10 7-eleven data card.
The program, which has been funded by a Homeless Action Grant from the province, was launched in the Downtown East side of Vancouver and in the downtown area of Victoria. Prince Rupert is listed among thirty communities that will participate in the program,
No timeline was provided as to when the phones will be made available in Prince Rupert, or how they can be accessed.
As the program is rolled out, we'll update the plans for local distribution when they are announced.
More notes on the project can be reviewed here.
Further items of interest from Victoria can be explored from our Legislature archive page.