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I'm in a bit of a similar, yet different position, but had a thought related to your dilemma....and maybe someone else would have a view whether this would even work.

It seems a big factor for you should be somehow taking advantage of the existing $$$ credit you have with Virgin (which I assume is on their prepaid service). One option would be to purchase an Android smartphone that could also be used as a mobile hotspot, either an unlocked phone plus add a Virgin SIM card, or buy one directly from Virgin. You should (but verify first) then be able to carry your old phone number and balance to this new phone.

Virgin lists that they have a data package for smartphones at $25/mo for 500MB of data, but its only listed for their postpaid accounts...I wonder if they offer such a plan for prepaid accounts (Telus recently started to offer data plans for prepaid accounts).

I suppose another option would be to see if Virgin would convert the credit on your prepaid account to a credit on a postpaid account.
 
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