Friday, March 2, 2007


Government Kills Community Internet Program

We are in danger of losing a truly Canadian resource. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is using the model and vision that our government is killing.

Did you know that across the world, from Norway to South Africa, from Ecuador to Australia, governments are investing in public internet for communities?

These governments understand why community internet is important to literacy rates, employment rates, and breaking down geographic and cultural barriers. These governments understand the importance of computer and internet literacy to economic growth.

Did you know that much of the world models its community internet on a program pioneered in
Canada?The Canadian model is known as the Community Access Program (CAP). It was started by Industry Canada in the mid-1990s. Its impact continues to be felt across Canadian communities both large and small.

Did you know that, as the rest of the world continues to recognize the economic benefits gained by investing in community internet, successive Canadian governments have slowly suffocated CAP by reducing its funding?
With the upcoming Conservative budget, CAP will be snuffed out. For good. CAP is a successful program with a proven economic and social impact. It cuts across nearly every community in Canada. It will be lost forever.The Conservative government has offered no new initiative to take the place of CAP. They refuse to comment on this. Instead, Conservatives continue to point the finger at the Liberals rather than talk about what they are actually going to do.

Did you know that the amount of technical information is doubling every two years? It is predicted to double every 72 hours by the year 2010. Now is not the time for Canada to pull their support for community training.

Communities should not have to bear the burden of partisan politics. Our literacy rates, our economic strength, and our social well-being are too important. These are investments in our future.

Well over 20 million citizens have received training or accessed the Internet from a CAP site in the past decade. A recent sample group study has shown that 93% of those who received training at a CAP Site felt that their new skills would positively impact their performance in a work or education environment.

Technology is transforming so fast that much of what we learned three years ago is now nearly obsolete. Our ability to use new technology has a direct impact upon our employment opportunities. CAP delivers this opportunity to communities.

The Conservatives will announce a new budget soon. Unless you speak out, this budget will bring with it the death of CAP. If you think that public internet access is important, please let your local member of parliament know. Please email Minister of Industry Maxime Bernier at

Now is not the time to stop investing in our communities.


Moonbeam said...

I keep coming back to this post and questioning why more people aren't screaming as communities are hit by this loss. However, when you think it makes perfect sense, the people who really need CAP don't know about or have access to this blog, it's the community champions who respond on their behalf and I'm afraid our voices may not be loud enough. Yet, there may be a bold and clear statement here. We offer up email addresses for MP's, government budget feedback forums, online newsletters, community web pages and blogs for feedback, but don't hear back from Canadians who don't have access. I guess that should not be surprising.

So here is my voice, I am representing not just myself but the voices of thousands of citizens on the North Island who can not respond for themsleves right now. I am representing the 35 communities who may have no free public access without the CAP program. I am representing the 49 sites struggling to keep their doors open to provide this vital service. Finally I am representing the dozens of programs spawned by CAP in our region that are also now in jeopardy as they loose a vital piece of the puzzle that held them together.

I can't help but wonder who are the decision makers representing.

Elizabeth said...

CAP is imperative to Afton, PEI. CAP is the only broadband connectivity in a 15km. radius of this community. Satellite connectivity is our only broadband resource. Dialup service is so poor that most users connect at 28.8 which is half the 56k ideal of dialup.We need CAP just to be connected. Is this government abandoning its rural citizens? The federal government must not forget the needs of its rural constituents.

Sue Lindstrom said...

I have been a part of our local CAP site for eight years. We have been able to expand our services to the community and still employ youth. For some youth this is the first real job. They get to use their computer skills, learn new things, and stay in the community.

This program has allowed our community to have a central place for information to be collected. Webpages for the community, non profit societies, along with not for profit groups, the disabled, and many more.

To undo this program is a sad thing. Ten years of work gone. Please reconsider and think visionary. There is much we can still be. Support although limited is better than none.

Our community needs these jobs and needs a centralized place to call their own. We are unique let's keep it that way. Canadian eh!

card7 said...

I have seen youth in rural communities go from having limited employment prospects to gaining the skills, experience, and confidence needed in order to succeed. I have seen youth gain full-time employment as a result. I have seen youth discover a career path in technology. I have seen them gain the confidence and the ambition to take the next steps, be it further education, sending out resumes, or starting a new business. This has happened countless times over the last decade of CAP's existence. I have seen it.

Why doesn't Ottawa see this?

Why is Ottawa prepared to cast this and future achievements to the dustbin? It is an insult.

Make no mistake. CAP is a relatively small investment that provides a disproportionately large return for the government. It strengthens communities. It gives disadvantaged and marginalized people an opportunity to climb the economic ladder. CAP pays for itself several times over.

Stephen Harper is apparently an economist. One would think that he would know a bit more about what makes for a good investment.

Daryl Hobbs said...

5 years ago I set up a CAP Site at 504B Parliament for Toronto Community Housing Corp. Since then the site has been an inspiration to everyone that drops by. As a matter of record the director of property managers for TCHC uses the site to help recruit new property managers.
We have also started the development of a Linux based thin client wireless network and the start of a windows based system as well. The point is, without the CAP site none of these projects and others like it would be difficult to cultivate if not impossible.

PCNA said...

Maxime Barnier

Our attention has been drawn to the proposed cut in budget by the Canadian Government and we believe it would affect Community Access Program (CAP) among others.
Without doubt, the CAP has produced access to a world of opportunity for men and women of all ages, both in the rural and remote areas particularly those living in poverty. We are aware that the issue of CAP cut has been a matter of debate for some time now though nothing is certain about it until the budget is finally passed.
While we enjoin beneficiaries of the CAP program to join others who are waiting to benefit from the program to rise to its defence in order to secure a more popular vote, we also urge the government to put the interest of the people at heart while taken any action.
Yours Truly
Society for Defence of Journalists' Rights (SDJR)
Third floor (front wing)
93, Allen Avenue
Lagos, Nigeria.

Harry Adam said...

I believe Michael Miranda sent out an email about a great 5 minute clip on YouTube that talks about the importance of the internet in communities in the US... I think the examples apply in our neck of the woods just as well!

digital inclusion

Chad said...

CAP has allowed Neil Squire's work with people with disabilities to reach far further than our community borders. Not only has our CAP site assisted 100s of people with disabilities each year in gaining computer literacy, it has also been an invaluable networking community for us.

Our CAP site runs a computer donation program, refurbishing old computers, diverting them from landfills and putting them, for free, into the homes of people with disabilities that otherwise could not afford one. This is not funded by anybody - we fundraise to provide this service, but would likely die along with our CAP site.

Through CAP, we've provided basic assistive technology to over a dozen communities across Canada, giving people with disabilities basic tools to access computer information. This project was funded by CAP in past years, but is no longer supported by Industry Canada due to cutbacks.

Through CAP, we've established 5 Assistive Technology Hub Sites, providing $10,000 dollars wortch of assistive technology to these communities. This was at no additional cost to CAP, but was made possible through the CAP network.

Through CAP, we've established a distance learning employment program into 7 different Canadian communities for people with disabilities, including rural communities and Indian Bands. Again, at no additional cost to CAP.

Through CAP, we've established a seniors technology program, helping seniors understand technology that allows them to live independently for a greater period of time. Again, this was not funded by CAP, but we would not have found such dedicated partners across the country without CAP.

None of these programs were funded by CAP (or are no longer funded by CAP). But CAP provided the links, the network, where thousands of individuals have increased their understanding of technology, moved onto volunteer, education, and employment activities, and lived longer, healthier more independent lives. I'd be willing to wager that the tax benefits of Neil Squire's work made possible through CAP connections offsets the cost of CAP. It's a shame that future opportunitiesand projects won't have the same network in place.

For the enabling of people with disabilities, for the enabling of seniors with a need for understanding of emerging technology, and for the connectivity of rural communities, I urge in the strongest of terms that CAP continued to be supported. It is the Federal government's greatest reach into communities all across Canada, providing the most important of service to Canadians: information.

cisler said...

Some years ago I spoke at an e-govt. conference in Canada. I think the audience thought I was unique (as an American) who appreciated the pioneering work done by the CAP programs around your country. I certainly hope you get some continued support and that it does not wither away.
Steve Cisler
San Jose, California

Michel J. said...

Cutting back a program like CAP is not going to make any good to the finances of Canada nor to its citizen. It is going to spoil earlier efforts and their accomplishments that attracted world attention and undermine the potential of Canadian population, especially the less priviledged one, to cope with the networked economic, educatinal and cultural environment.
This would be one more typical, these days, short term and short sighted measure that proves desastrous in all respects.
In addition, appropriate public access for indigenous communities is key to the wide movement of international cooperation across native communities on the continent and elsewhere.
Keep CAP going
Prof. M. J. Menou

Michel J. said...

Cutting back a program like CAP is not going to make any good to the finances of Canada nor to its citizen. It is going to spoil earlier efforts and their accomplishments that attracted world attention and undermine the potential of Canadian population, especially the less priviledged one, to cope with the networked economic, educatinal and cultural environment.
This would be one more typical, these days, short term and short sighted measure that proves desastrous in all respects.
In addition, appropriate public access for indigenous communities is key to the wide movement of international cooperation across native communities on the continent and elsewhere.
Keep CAP going

Prof. M.J. Menou

emilie and jeff said...

I am horrified to hear that this program might be cut. I'm very internet dependent yet I don't possess a computer. I use the computers at the Fairfield Community Association almost daily. It is where my son goes to Preschool. In a time where energy efficiency and the environment are on top of the political heap of concerns, it seems the government has forgotten about toxic waste left behind by discarded computer hardware. Cutting this program is the equivalent canceling the mass transit system. I am disappointed that Canada can't recognize it's own good ideas. This is more than two steps back. I am directly affected, lower income people are directly affected. How can we learn to use this resource without having the chance?

Nick said...

CAP is absolutely essential for youth in rural communities. It creates opportunities for us by helping to build up our experience, our skills, and our involvement in the community. Working as a provincial coordinator has had an immeasurable impact on my future; I am one of thousands who has benefited from CAP.

"This free service made it possible for a retired gentleman to realize a dream - write a book ... he was amazed by the internet tools he could use and made his new found passion for writing so much easier."
Chantel Aubin - Success Story
Francophone Association of Nanaimo

"Working at Sointula Resource Center Society has been great for getting to know new people and tourists. I enjoyed educating people about our island and helping people get the best experience out of their visit."
Gayle Cowan - Success Story

Michael said...

I hope this important work continues to be supported. If there are any similar calls to action in French I would be happy to share them with my Quebec colleagues.