Canadian Library Association pleased with extension of Community Access Program

(Ottawa, June 7, 2007) - The Canadian Library Association (CLA) is pleased the federal government is continuing the Community Access Program (CAP) for this fiscal year. CAP has been one of CLA's major advocacy files, and the Association lobbied diligently for the program's continuation.

"This announcement demonstrates this government recognizes the importance of the CAP program to Canadians and to the libraries that serve them," says CLA President Alvin Schrader. "Libraries will now be better able to help Canadians get access to the information and federal government services they need through the Internet."

CAP is an Industry Canada initiative providing residents across Canada with affordable access to the Internet and the opportunities to develop the technical skills to use it effectively. Established in 1994, CAP provides Canadians with new ways to access information, learn, and do business in today's knowledge-based economy, with the broader aim of improving the economic, social and cultural well-being of citizens and communities across the nation.

CAP funding was scheduled to end March 31, 2006. After community pressure, the federal government provided modest interim funding for 2006-2007. Industry Minister Maxime Bernier's June 6, 2007 announcement extends funding through to March 2008.

"We are pleased the government recognizes that the digital divide still exists between those Canadians who have sufficient access to the Internet and those who don't, and that it is doing something about it," Schrader says. "Research shows that libraries are the preferred source for access and training for those on the disadvantaged side of the divide. This funding will help libraries help Canadians."

While welcoming the funding renewal, CLA Executive Director Don Butcher noted the uncertainty about the program's future beyond this fiscal year. "Though successful up to this point, our work is not done. CLA will continue to urge the government to make a multi-year commitment to CAP and to return funding to pre-2005 levels."

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