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Mapping Toronto’s Digital Divide (2021)

Posted on:
April 9, 2022

This research provides an up-to-date and detailed understanding of internet and device access in Toronto amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


"The City of Toronto is home to some of Canada’s fastest internet infrastructure. Yet there continues to be a digital divide in Toronto separating people who do or do not have access to the internet at home. This report provides a deeper examination of this divide, or rather series of divides, persisting in terms of internet speed, affordability and quality and household access to internet-enabled devices. Such divisions are not spread  evenly across the population, with lower-income and older residents more likely to not have access, or to have slower internet...

a multi-method online and phone survey of 2,500 Toronto residents was completed in November and December 2020. Additional data were also collected and analyzed from Statistics Canada, Toronto school boards,  the Toronto Public Library and the federal government’s Connecting Families initiative."

Key findings

  • 98% of Toronto households have home internet access, but 38% of households report download speeds below the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s national target of 50 megabits per second (Mbps);
  • Half of Toronto’s low-income households (52%) and of those aged 60 and older (48%) report download speeds below the national target of 50 Mbps;
  • 34% of Toronto households are worried about paying their home internet bills over the next few months, with rates of worry greatest among low-income, newcomer, single parent, Latin American, South Asian, Black and Southeast Asian residents.
  • Of the 2% of Toronto households not connected to home internet, half are not connected due to the cost, and 61% say it is impacting their ability to access critical services and information;
  • Those aged 60 and older have lower rates of access to home internet (95%) and are more likely to lack a device that can connect to the internet, compared to younger residents;
  • Noteworthy parts of the City with lower rates of connectivity include the Humber Summit/Jane and Finch area, South Parkdale and the Moss Park/Regent Park/St. James Town area;
  • 42% of those in Toronto without home internet access use the public library for access, compared to 16% overall;
  • Toronto households earning under $50,000 have less than one computer for each person (average of 0.7 computers per person), lower than the national average of 1.0; and
  • 15% of households with less than $20,000 income and 20% of those aged 60 and older do not have a smartphone.

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This research provides an up-to-date and detailed understanding of internet and device access in Toronto amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.