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.