Government Pulling Support for Community Access Programs

Marita Moll reports that Industry Canada has sent letters to thousands of community access program sites advising that funding is coming to an end for most sites.  CAP was established in 1995 to provide community access to the Internet.  The program will be scaled down to cover only those communities without access to a publicly funded library within 25 kilometres.  Other program sites will see their funding disappear effective April 1, 2010.

Industry Canada describes CAP in the following manner:

The program plays a crucial role in bridging the Digital Divide; contributing to the foundation for electronic access to government services; encouraging on-line learning and literacy; fostering the development of community based infrastructure; and, promoting Canadian e-commerce.

The Government says the program is no longer needed.  The letter to administrators states:

As you know, CAP was created in 1995, when Internet technologies and participation in the new knowledge-based economy had not yet penetrated the Canadian socio-economic landscape. Since that time, broadband Internet service in Canada has increased considerably:94 percent of Canadians now live in a community where broadband access is available for purchase. In fact, since 2008, almost all urban households and over three quarters of rural households have had access to broadband service. An estimated 8 in 10 Canadians presently use the Internet on a regular basis. In addition, alternative forms of public Internet access are now available throughout most of Canada.

The world has changed, but Moll points out that CAPs have served as a valuable resource for many communities.


  1. I can’t say I disagree, I mean, Apple built a whole business on products that are commonly used to infringe copyright. (160GB iPod’s filled with legit music? HAHA right)

    On the other hand, I hope the CRIA will finally shut up with their bullshit about how bad Canadian copyright is outdated if they get their levy on MP3 players.
    I’m sick and tired of the CRIA spreading propaganda about filesharing and wanting the government to impose draconian copyright. One can only wish.

  2. Crap, how did that comment end up here? Re: MP3 Levy

  3. Short notice?
    That’s only two weeks from now. I can understand that the program has less of an impact today than 15 years ago, but it’s not very nice of them to pull funding without any helpful notice.

  4. Chump change sure
    but, let’s not forget that the government is under a lot of pressure to reduce the deficit. A few million here and there adds up. CAP was established at a time when the government had cash; it was paying down the debt. Now that there isn’t the cash, and a lot of vocal people are calling for the budget to be balanced, the question needs to be asked about the value for the money, and the political gains for the cost.

    Lots of people want the budget balanced, so long as it doesn’t affect them personally. Far fewer are willing to accept a cut in services that they use.

  5. Hard to Stay Unbiased…
    First, does this mean that CAP sites that ARE public libraries will lose this funding? They are within 25 km of a public library, after all. I guess they figure that any public library these days must have public internet – which is going to be a problem if that very service is being funded by CAP.

    Second – it’s really hard to avoid feeling like this is a slap in the face to the denser population regions. You’re going to be hard pressed to find anywhere in southern Ontario that isn’t within 25 km of a publicly funded library. But not everyone is in large cities with public transport. “Within 25 km of a public library” may still be effectively out of reach for many people. Of course, more remote regions will still qualify, which is likely the purpose here – don’t be afraid to destroy something useful that’s providing a good return on investment, but just be sure to keep the optics looking good.

  6. Elizabeth Wilson says:

    Coordinator, Afton Computer Club and Cornwall CAP Site – Prince Edward Island
    The Industry Canada policy will completely end CAP Sites in Prince Edward Island. Our province is approx. 224 km. from tip-to-tip and between 4 – 64 km. from north shore to south shore. Our province is mainly rural and CAP Sites are housed in rural municipal buildings that also provide space for municipal offices, libraries, seniors’ groups and CAP Sites. Most libraries that have computers and internet have CAP equipment that is maintained and upgraded by CAP – so no CAP, most likely no computers and internet in rural areas. This is a real hit to rural communities in Prince Edward Island and shows that Industry Canada either doesn’t have enough knowledge about rural Canada or just doesn’t care.

  7. Ross Snowden says:

    It’s a good move. there is no need to fund something like this anymore. We need to cut the spending, so it’s a move in the right direction.

  8. The comments here have illustrated my point. Chris. The more remote rural regions don’t send enough people to Ottawa to make that much of a difference politically. The city of Ottawa, for instance, sends as many as the rest of Eastern Ontario from Peterborough to the Quebec border. The entire province of PEI has 4 MPs… My local public library is ~12 km away, and open 41 hours per week. The internet there (3 computers) is funded by Industry Canada under the CAP program…

  9. TheEliteMob says:

    The common man has shown that the internet is a threat to the elite. We originally intended that the poor use the internet to do additional unpaid salary work from home, or while out of the office at no charge to us.

    Instead you people are using it to plot and plan a re-distribution of disproportionate wealth that we’ve obtained by exploiting the common man. This means we’ll slowly start to close the internet, piece by piece. We are the elite, the small 1% that make more money the 99% below us combined. We own you! Not the other way around.

    Expect filters next in Canada. We must stop the freedom of speech – err I mean Internet Porn!

  10. Darlene Thompson says:

    CAP Administrator, Nunavut
    I am thinking that most people here who think that the “work is done, lets move on now” are probably those that are living in an area with good connectivity and are affluent enough to have a computer at home. I would encourage these ones to visit our country’s rural areas, reserves, remote areas and the far north. Many people there cannot afford connectivity or the cost of a computer. Also, many need assistance to be taught how to use this important resource, both of which which CAP supplies. The digital divide is alive and well in Canada and now one of the main tools to battle this problem is being pulled. This isn’t an unneccessary extravegance. It is as important as any other public utility.

    Oh, and just think – most libraries do not receive funding for computers. They have been relying on the CAP program to keep their computers alive. Where will they be in two years?

  11. Darlene Thompson says:

    CAP Administrator, Nunavut
    Chris S: You have hit the nail on the head. Yes, if a library is also a CAP site they loose funding to maintain the computers, buy new ones and important youth initiative jobs that benefit the youths by giving them excellent work experience and the public by offereing training. This will all be gone.

  12. Hm
    What ever happened to a community pooling funds together to get what they need? It’s not necessarily a question of every individual getting their own connection, but I’m sure a small community could easily pool money together to get internet for their local library or whatnot…

    Once upon a time, the community priests used to take up this role – collecting money from the outlying farmers to have what they need built, such as power stations or wells for the benefit of the local community…

    Is the absence of these community actions the era of individuality at work again ?

  13. Garth Smedley says:

    CAP Board Member NS
    CAP sites have volunteer boards that oversee and in many cases run the CAP sites in their area, so there is a great deal of community involvement in the CAP program. I believe that this is one of the strengths of the program, a small amount of federal money leverages the time and effort of community volunteers who understand what is needed in their area. Local CAP boards operate as independent organizations and I expect many of the boards will not simply disband and shut down sites because the funding has ended, if there is any way they can help it. However, sites with paid staff, low-cost computer training and other community programs, that is, the most successful ones, will be hard-pressed to continue on such short notice.

  14. Communities organizing knowledge using CAP sites.
    In our research work in remote communities, we’ve found the CAP sites to be incredibly valuable community rallying points. There are able, technically savvy, and community minded people (often youth) there who are able to help local citizens make their local, regional, and traditional knowledge available to their youth and the public through the internet. The impact of a reliable public internet connection, facility space, and dedicated staff, and the possibility of a community hosting it’s own public presence locally is much much more positive than simply ‘free internet access.’

    Anyway, I guess it’s possible that the comments here will be read by someone at Industry Canada, but why take the chance. 🙂

    Minister Clement’s email address is:

  15. This just in…
    Just in case anyone has been under a rock – someone noticed.

    Several days after the letters informing sites of CAP funding cuts and substantial press reports covered this, the Minister called a press conference and announced that what was really happening was that the funding was being moved to a different location in the budget. CAP funding would be cut, but other funding, from the broadband strategy budget, would step in and the funding to CAP sites would continue for one more year.

  16. how much
    Makes me wonder how much money was sent using express purolator to send 2 letters to 3000+ cap sites.