Published by Senator Jane Cordy on 14 May 2012
The CAP program has been in operation since 1995. The program ensures that all Canadians have equal access to the Internet. It has been operating, that is until a late evening announcement the night before the Easter long weekend by the Harper government that eliminated their support.
The Harper government claims that the program was gutted because the vast majority of Canadians now have access to the Internet and that the program is obsolete. This claim contradicts a Statistics Canada study which found only 54 percent of low income Canadians have Internet access. Thousands of Canadians still use CAP sites each day.
Low income Canadians are exactly the people who need Internet access as the Harper government proudly boast of providing most of their services online. This mixed messaging has Canadians confused - put Government services online but eliminate support for CAP!
Low income Canadians, rural Canadians without high speed Internet, new Canadians, seniors and First Nations people living in remote areas who rely on CAP sites will now have limited access to the increasing number of government services which are available online.
Usage of CAP sites is still the same or greater than it was in 1995 and training sessions at the sites are consistently in demand. In my province of Nova Scotia, we have 209 CAP sites operating mainly out of libraries and community centers. The funding provided by the Federal Government and Provincial Government covered the cost of the computers and the electricity bills. Without the Federal funding, most of these CAP sites will no longer be able to operate.
This also comes on top of recent announcements to close EI processing Service Canada centers in many areas of Canada with high unemployment. The Harper Government is abandoning those low income Canadians. The elimination of CAP sites, for those Canadians who rely on them, will make it much more difficult to access government services.
They are doing this despite only 54 percent of low income Canadians have Internet access and an Industry Canada study finding that CAP sites are frequently used by a wide variety of Canadians.
These CAP sites provide Internet service to Canadians who need access the most. This decision should be reversed.