Saturday, November 04, 2006


CAP site computers could be off-line March 31 By Dave Cooper The Pilot

CAP site computers could be off-line March 31

Federal government cuts have Library Board concerned

Dave Cooper
The Pilot

LEWISPORTE – Members of the Lewisporte Memorial Public Library Board are upset with news of cuts to Literacy and the Community Access Program (CAP) of Industry Canada by the federal government.

At a recent meeting of the board these concerns were brought to the table. Board chairperson John Sutherland said members of the board have grave concerns.

“CAP is the program that has placed a bank of free-access computers in our local library, and has provided funds on a regular basis for the board to hire individuals to provide assistance to our clients who are not computer literate,” said Mr. Sutherland. “We have consistently had more people wishing to take this training than we have been able to accommodate.”

Most of the 165 CAP sites in the province are located in rural and remote areas and in many communities they are the only source of public internet access.

Mr. Sutherland said computer literacy is an essential 21st century learning skill.

“Our Library Computers are in high demand,” he said.

Proposed cuts to the federal government funding for literacy work in this province and country doesn’t sit well with the board either.

“I understand the reduction in funding for basic community based adult literacy programs is some $785,000,” said the library board chair. “More than 50 per cent of people aged 16-65 in this province do not have the literacy skills that are need for our knowledge-based economy.”

Mr. Sutherland feels government cannot justify these recent cuts to literacy programs.

“Not only are these cuts severe and damaging to basic literacy, they are also incomprehensible. Funding to computer and print literacy is being cut by the Federal Government at a time when that same government has huge cash surpluses.”

Mr. Sutherland said he appreciates that Provincial Education Minister Joan Burke has added her voice to those who have spoken out opposing these cuts.

Ms. Burke has called on the federal government to reinstate funding for CAP, which is being cut in Newfoundland and Labrador by $305,000, a 48 per cent reduction from last year.

“I immediately made direct contact with our Members of Parliament, Minister Loyola Hearn, Fabian Manning and Norm Doyle at the first indication that CAP funding could be jeopardized,” said Ms. Burke. “There have been conflicting reports coming from the department responsible, Industry Canada, about the status of CAP. On the one hand, assurances were given that funding would not be impacted and on the other hand, we were told that only transitional funding would be provided. However, it is now clear that only $68,282 will be provided by the federal government until March 31, 2007, with no indication if the program will be funded at all beyond that date.”

Ms. Burke said CAP is a means to get services available on-line, to get help with basic skills such as resume writing, and to take distance education courses and technology training. In addition, other agencies use the CAP sites to deliver programs in more rural communities.

“It’s hard to comprehend why the federal government would cut a program like this, given the importance of the Internet and technology in today’s world,” said Ms. Burke. “Technology and innovation are viewed globally as cornerstones to economic growth and prosperity and our government contributes millions to the information technology sector.

“Yet we have a federal government slashing funding to a program that provides a very basic technological service that is essential for full participation and inclusion in the community.
I am extremely discouraged to see such a regressive decision.”

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to provide the funding it has committed under the federal/provincial cost-shared agreement for the Community Access Program.

“We entered into a partnership with the federal government to deliver this program and we will not reduce our contribution to $68,282, as the federal government has,” said Ms. Burke. “Otherwise, the sites would never be able to remain open until the end of March. The participation of the federal government is critical for CAP sites to keep operating beyond March 31.”

Mr. Sutherland said those people who frequent the CAP sites across the province need to speak up.

“It would be marvelous if all of our CAP Site users and library patrons would let the federal government know how valuable our library computers and other literacy services are,” he said. “We need many voices to make sure that these incomprehensible cuts are reversed. Computer Literacy and literacy in general needs more funding and more programming not less.”

Funding restored for P.E.I. literacy group.
The P.E.I. Literacy Alliance has received two more years of funding from the federal government. The funding had been cut at the end of September.

The alliance is an umbrella organization for 30 literacy groups in the province. Ottawa cut funding to groups across the country, and for the P.E.I. group it meant losing $100,000 of its $140,000 annual budget.

Despite the returned funds, the alliance said its fight with the feds is not over yet. It plans to keep lobbying for $325,000 the province lost in that cut.

The Binns government used the money to support its own literacy initiatives.

At the time, Treasury Board President John Baird said the Conservative government intended to focus more on teaching children to read, rather than adults.

Seeing as our province has been closing and consolidating schools the need for this kind of funding is even more necessary now than ever. Seeing as alot of our small communities don't even have libraries let alone CAP sites students from low income families which there are alot of since the Grand Bankruptcy brought on by the mismanagement of the Federallies and DFO to the appeasement of foreign interests on the Nose Tail and Flemish cap quotas and overfishing along with the continued support of canada to not support a moratorium on Bottom Dragging on the 40% of our continental shelf which lies outside the 200 mile limit, where 60% of the worlds bottom dragging takes place.

How are these kids from low income families supposed to access the vast resources available on the WWW if these CAP sites are being closed and no longer funded by our tax dollars of which we contribute 4 to 1 more than any other canadian towards the GDP of the federations exports. That doesn't even take into account the interprovincial exports and the lost income to the province from the conflict of interest Upper churchill contract.

If anything NL's funding for this kind of initiative should be increased not reduced. Don't don't compare NL with PEI either PEI could have one CAP that could service their entire population where as NL which is three times the size of the maritime provinces combined would need alot more of this very valuable access to information and research resources.
PEI is no bigger than the Avalon alone and NL shouldn't be compared to it in any way shape or form. If anything NL needs to be considered on it's own because there isn't one province in Canada that compares to it's vastness diversity and special considerations required.

NL's continental shelf is the size of the three prairie provinces combined.

NL's centre for distance education.
my community never got a CAP site. several of us tried very hard a few years ago and told the gov crowd we would volunteer our hours on saturdays to help the community kids. we have the poorest community on the southwest coast here and im sure were below average with other communities with computers/internet in homes.
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