Funding uncertain for CAP sites

Ryan Ross
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The CAP site at the Montague library

The days of free access to high-speed Internet access in P.E.I. could be numbered as some Community Access Program sites brace for the federal government to eliminate its funding.

Elizabeth Wilson, who runs CAP sites in Afton and Cornwall, said the funding change shows how disconnected the federal government is from Canadians with lower incomes and no access to high-speed Internet.

“I don’t know if they can imagine someone making minimum wage,” she said.

As of Monday, Wilson hadn’t officially heard the federal government was cutting the program, but said she saw media reports out of Nova Scotia that confirmed the CAP funding is ending.

Industry Canada oversees the program that provides affordable Internet access through sites in communities across the country.

Although the federal government hasn’t made an official announcement yet, Industry Canada sent an e-mail Thursday night to the chairman of the Nova Scotia CAP Association to inform him of the funding change.

Wilson said people still use the sites she manages and, last year, more than 3,000 of them went to the Afton CAP site.

Although that was down from the previous year, the Cornwall site seems to be busier with 200 to 300 people per month using it so far in 2012, she said.

“It’s hard to believe that we’re seeing that much usage but we are,” she said.

Wilson said so many things have moved online people need Internet access, including for things like employment insurance applications.

“If there wasn’t such an emphasis from the federal government on using technology I might even understand it a bit more,” she said.

Once the program funding runs out, the CAP site in Cornwall will close within a month and the Afton site won’t be far behind, Wilson said.

The situation in Crapaud isn’t quite as serious because its CAP site paid for its Internet service in advance.

Neila Auld, one of the site’s volunteers, said it can probably keep going for about a year once the funding ends, but after that it would have to close.

Auld said the site has had a lot of uses in the community, including providing Internet access for tourists and creating summer jobs for local students.

“It would be missed if it was gone,” she said.

For the people who use the site, Auld said she doesn’t know what they will do if the funding is cut.

“Everything is online now.”

Organizations: Industry Canada, Nova Scotia CAP Association

Geographic location: Cornwall, Afton, P.E.I. Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Lori
    April 11, 2012 - 07:23

    People on minimum wage can not afford to have computers and internet service. Keep the CAP sites... surely we all must realize how important they are. And as a place of community too. Our government is so far away from the reality of many Canadians.

  • Nova Scotian
    April 10, 2012 - 17:45

    If you're concerned about the future of CAP sites in PEI contact your MP! At the same time as the Federal government moves more services and information online they are limiting access to people who need it the most.

  • Garth Staples
    April 10, 2012 - 14:46

    Ghiz cuts 250 jobs from Transportation and another 300 from PS and the Guardian hasn't heard? What spin will follow?

  • Downtown Doug
    April 10, 2012 - 14:14

    So, if I undestand this correctly. A great deal of people still use these site, as well as people who are down and out who use these sites to possible assist with such things as education, job applications, working with the EI system, and maybe upgrading their computer use. Yes, I can see how this is a program that has gone alllll wrong! In the squeeze of things this only makes matters worse for an individual and ultimately for the community. I'm fortunate that I do have a job still and that I am able to afford my continuing education on line. Many can't. This just goes to show the government is out of touch with reality, again.

  • Person
    April 10, 2012 - 13:27

    Thats too bad and it will affect many . Obviously not for some miserable people who think they pay for anyone and everything.

  • teatime
    April 10, 2012 - 12:31

    @Boo Hoo. It really sounds like you are a very compassionate person! No doubt you have your own computer and probably a laptop and mobile device to boot. Many people cant afford any of that and depend on these services. Hopefully some day soon you will find out what its like to have to choose between eating and having the internet to find a job or update your resume, but its doubtful anything would open the eyes of someone as cold and judgemental as you have shown yourself to be, just like many others in this world who only care about themselves. To bad, but what goes around comes around you can depend on that Mr.

  • hoo boo
    April 10, 2012 - 12:20

    Like most Islanders, you don't actually pay for this, the Feds do. Pretty sure you're not some special exception. Unless you are from Ottawa, in which case I apologize (for everything).

  • Shellie
    April 10, 2012 - 12:18

    Your correct Ms. Wilson, “I don’t know if they can imagine someone making minimum wage."They can't, don't and don't want to know. I see this as another move by them to further "dumb down" the people in provinces that their stats have since 1984 indicate these people as being ignorant and apathetic. A boo-hoo type comment only assists in further confirming their stats of the demographics of the people in east coast provinces.

  • Garth Staples
    April 10, 2012 - 12:15

    Give the Ghiz Govt a call. They should have connections with internet providers.

  • Boo Hoo
    April 10, 2012 - 11:35

    So What? Some freeloaders who want me to pay so they can be on Facebook are unhappy. Cry me a river.

    • Tony
      April 10, 2012 - 14:30

      There are all kinds of uses for high speed internet and most are worthwhile. The federal govt. recognized this years ago. It's typical that the present govt. thinks we would be much better off paying somebody for it when the present system is handy and almost portable for all Islanders.