OP/ED: MP slams Tory cuts to Community Access Program funding
Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko added his voice today to the growing calls from his constituents demanding that the Conservative government reverse the cuts to the Community Access Program (CAP) hidden in the federal omnibus Budget Bill C-38 that will affect rural and low-income Canadians.
“CAP used to have more service locations than Canada’s favourite doughnut shop and has served around 25 million Canadians since it launched in 1994,” said Atamanenko. “The need for it has not ended. Right across this federal riding, from the Similkameen to Salmo, constituents are saying CAP has been a vital service in our rural communities,” he added.
Industry Canada’s Community Access Program provided computers and internet access to community schools, community centres, friendship centres, libraries, youth centres and social service centres.
“This $2 million cut to fund internet access will hurt low-income and rural people who otherwise have little or no access to the Internet: students doing research who can’t afford a computer, unemployed people looking for jobs and preparing and sending resumes; new Canadians learning to connect with services in their community; seniors on fixed income keeping in contact with their loved ones; rural residents without high speed internet or any internet service at all. All of these people will lose this service, said the NDP MP.
“This move is particularly ironic of the Harper government, as the federal Conservatives are closing more and more government offices in rural areas. Again and again the Minister stands up in the House and tells Canadians that to access Service Canada they need to use the Internet. Then the Conservatives cut the one program that put the Internet into every Canadian community. It just doesn’t make sense,” Atamanenko said.
Statistics Canada’s own research shows that nearly half of all Canadians earning $30,000 a year or less have no access to the Internet in their homes. “That is why the CAP is so important,” Atamanenko added.
“These cuts widen the digital divide and the disparity between rural and urban and well-to-do and poor Canadians, and their opportunities to participate in our economy, our workforce and our communities.”
Readers can find out more about other federal cuts and changes to legislation in the Conservatives omnibus budget Bill C-38 by going to: www.budget2012.ndp.ca for more information.