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Digital Divides: Public Internet Access

Although internet infrastructure is almost universal in many communities, barriers to internet adoption, including internet affordability, make a significant portion of people in Canada reliant on free public internet access at libraries, retail, and community locations. Over half of Ontarians who would not have otherwise had access to technology relied on a public library to access the internet, with rates higher (up to 68%) for older and low-income residents. Not only is this access relied on, public internet also fosters greater civic, social, and community engagement.

How should Canada expand access and improve the experience of public internet? Which particular groups are least likely to benefit from public internet access and how can this be improved? 

Join us to discuss how Canada can better support our public internet infrastructure for the marginalized communities who rely on them and for everyone.


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

9:00 AM (PT)

Online event

After registration, you will receive the information to log-in to the conversation one day before the event.


All our workshops will have closed captioning in English. If you have any questions about accessibility, please contact

Other considerations

This session will be recorded and will be shared with registrants after the event with the event transcript.

Guest speakers

Christina de Castell

Chief Librarian and CEO at Vancouver Public Library

Christina de Castell is Chief Librarian & CEO at Vancouver Public Library, and has held roles across technology, collections, research and public service in her 20-year career as a librarian. She is passionate about the role of libraries in building communities and exploring ideas, and fascinated by the way that technology is changing how we learn and communicate. In 2015, Christina represented libraries at UN forums as manager, policy and advocacy for the International Federation of Library Associations. She is currently vice-chair of the copyright committee for CFLA, and a member of the IFLA Copyright & Other Legal Matters Advisory Committee and the Ryerson Centre for Free Expression Working Group on Intellectual Freedom.

Michael Lenczner

Director of Powered by Data

Michael Lenczner works in the areas of nonprofit information management and open government and is currently the CEO of Ajah, and director of Powered by Data, a nonprofit initiative on the MakeWay shared platform. He is a frequent collaborator on academic-community research partnerships and serves on several nonprofit boards and advisory groups related to technology, democracy and civil society. Since 2018, he has been a Fellow at the School of Public Policy and Administration of Carleton University.

Lawrence Eta

Chief Technology Officer at the City of Toronto

In his role as Chief Technology Officer at the City of Toronto, Lawrence provides strategic leadership in modernizing the City's Information & Technology division and developing innovative, resident-centric technology solutions. He oversees the future of technology services and implements developments that align with the digital city’s strategic direction. Lawrence first joined the City in 2019, and previously served as the Acting and Deputy Chief Information Officer.

Prior to joining the City, Lawrence was an industry executive for over 20 years, where he led operations and technology divisions, achieving sustainable and measured results while improving operational efficiency and service delivery. Lawrence previously served as the Global Director of Customer Success within the Internet of Things (IOT) sector, Vice President of Technical Architecture and Director of Business Technology Solutions for an international business process outsourcing organization, and Director of Information Services for one of Canada's top 60 pension and benefits plans.

Pam Ryan

Director, Service Development and Innovation at Toronto Public Library  

Pam Ryan is Director of Service Development and Innovation at Toronto Public Library, and a member of the Urban Libraries Council’s Digital Equity Action Team.

Reading List

Read a short framing paper put together by our partners that lays out the context, evidence and importance of these discussions.