B.C. woman petitioning for free Wi-Fi in Canadian hospitals

Some hospitals in the province already offer the service, but most of them do not

A petition is being circulated by a Vancouver Island woman in an effort to get free (or reasonably priced) Wi-Fi access in Canadian hospitals.

While some hospitals do offer the service, most do not.

A medical condition has forced Cowichan Valley resident Sarah Gibson in and out of hospital on a regular basis, sometimes for more than two weeks at a time.

“When I lived in Victoria it was frustrating not to have any internet access, but after getting married and moving to Lake Cowichan it became much more annoying since my husband needed to work where there was internet access. So he would have to drive back and forth a lot,” she explained.

With family and friends only able to visit for short periods of time, isolation quickly set in for Gibson.

“I have been in the hospital and bought the TV but it still doesn’t help in the lack of connection you can feel while you are in there for weeks at a time,” she said. “I bring many bags of things to keep me amused, from books to crafts; When you are in there for two weeks minimum it is hard to feel like you are being productive.”

And she’s not alone. There are other reasons for both patients and visitors to stay connected, too.

“I have spent a lot of time in hospital as one cannot leave the elderly there without a constant advocate. (It) would be great to communicate with family, stay in touch with work and friends, and for entertainment,” said one anonymous signer of the petition.

“I am a frequent hospital patient for lung infections related to my Cystic Fibrosis. Free Wi-Fi will help me to recover and allow me to keep up with work, family and my cystic fibrosis support group when I need them most,” wrote petitioner Katelyn Giffin.

“This is essential for quality care in modern times. Keeps families connected,” added Josée Laroche.

Thus far the Free Internet For Canadian Hospitals petition has raised a few hundred signatures towards the 5,000 goal.

Island Health spokesperson Meribeth Burton said Island Health now provides wireless internet for the public and staff at the new North Island Hospital campuses in Campbell River and the Comox Valley.

“Our goal is to expand public and staff Wi-Fi to other facilities in the future as opportunity and finances allow,” Burton said.



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Sarah Gibson wants free (or inexpensive) Wi-Fi in Canadian hospitals. (Submitted)

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