GEO Nova Scotia is proud to announce an investment of $1.5m from the Department of Community Services to enhance and expand Digital Inclusion services across the province in 2022-23.
“Digital Inclusion means having good, affordable internet access; a good, affordable device; and the basic digital skills to use them confidently and safely,” said GEO Nova Scotia Executive Director, Matt Spurway.
This investment enables the growth of digital capacity for people living with lower incomes which facilitates access to education, training, and employment opportunities, improved food security and housing stability, information, transportation, and reduced social isolation.
“Over the past two years, dozens of organizations across the province have worked together to provide home internet access and computers through GEO Nova Scotia, impacting thousands,” said Sandra McKenzie, Board Chair. “This investment will allow us to continue developing programs together that will ensure Digital Inclusion for everyone.”
Before any new participants are connected, GEO Nova Scotia will spend a number of months evaluating the experiences of current partners and participants and then work with them to redesign the programs based on what’s been learned.
“Once we are ready to relaunch, our goal this year is to double our reach with internet service and devices and to support those participants with an innovative new one-on-one digital skills program to ensure everyone has everything they need to be successful online,” Spurway said.
GEO Nova Scotia began as the GEO Project: Getting Everyone Online in April 2020 as a small, community-led initiative in Dartmouth North in response to the pandemic and the isolation experienced by people who can’t afford what they need to be online.
In 2021 the initiative expanded across the province, establishing a network of 70 partners, connecting over 350 low-income households with free high-speed internet, and distributing more than 600 new computers.
“We’re proud that as a government, we can be a part of helping more low-income Nova Scotians access the digital landscape. We know this $1.5 million investment in GEO Nova Scotia will provide people with increased access to the supports and opportunities that exist in our province.”
- Karla MacFarlane, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Community Services
“Now more than ever, people need to be able to get online, yet thousands of Nova Scotians can’t afford it, and many more lack the essential skills. Together, we are finding a path forward that builds on the strength of each partner in our growing Network.”
- Lynne McCarron, Executive Director, United Way Cape Breton
“Marginalized communities are better engaged when programs can be accessed through existing, trusted relationships, and are adapted to their unique needs. GEO Nova Scotia is doing exactly that, working with a diverse network of partners in order to serve diverse populations across the province.”
- Trina Fraser, Executive Director, East Preston Family Resource Centre
“GEO Nova Scotia is an example of what can happen when everyone pitches in to tackle a complex problem. Partners come from the private sector, the non-profit sector, and the public sector. The Government of Nova Scotia is a leader in recognizing that all Nova Scotians must have access to the Internet, and that each sector has a role to play in making this happen in an inclusive, efficient, universal and sustainable way.”
- Erika Shea, CEO New Dawn Enterprises
- More than 20,000 Nova Scotians have no home internet because they simply can’t afford it. (Canadian Internet Use Survey, 2020)
- Low-income households spend almost twelve times as much of their income per person on communication compared to high-income households (6.2% vs 0.53%). (Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending)
- 63% of GEO Nova Scotia participants want internet access to find work
- 83% of GEO Nova Scotia participants want to access health and mental health services online
- 95% of GEO Nova Scotia participants use the internet to maintain social connections with family and friends