Federal government ends Community Access Program

The federal government has cut all funding to the Community Access Program, effective March 31, 2012. The program began in 1995 to provide Internet access for Canadians. According to the government’s website, the program “has brought computer and Internet technologies to Canadians across the country and has successfully achieved its objectives.”
Many in the North, however, continue to rely on the program for access to the Internet. In an interview with CBC, Catherine Hoyt said cuts will have a discernible impact on users across the territories:

“The people that CAP sites are serving are the disenfranchised, the low income, the homeless, the transient people that don’t — and even down south will not — have internet access at their homes,” she said. Hoyt is worried this cutback could affect other library programs.
“We do generate some of our own revenue from book sales, but normally that money goes to buying new books,” she said.
If the money were used for the CAP site, it would mean fewer new books for the library, she said.
Nunavut’s community access program used to get $85,000 a year from Industry Canada, That only accounts for a quarter of what’s needed to keep more than 20 public internet sites in Nunavut up and running, said Darlene Thompson, administrator for Nunavut’s community access program.

The North’s and isolated communities rely heavily on government assistance to connect both within the Territories and beyond.

Photo credit: Jerald Sabin

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