Everyone has the right to access information
April 21, 2012 - BY DULCIE MCCALLUM
This is the information age. At the core of our global and local communities is information. Accessing the Internet is how people learn and conduct research, find employment and volunteer work, socialize with friends and family, and sell/shop.
As the person responsible for independent oversight of Nova Scotia citizens’ right to access information, I feel compelled to lend my full support to the case articulated by Andrew Wright in the April 17 opinion piece "CAP services critical to communities and country."
Tuesday marked the 30-year anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is testimony to ours being a country that is supposed to be about equal opportunity.
I thought the recent federal austerity budget put an emphasis on "value for money." On that basis, how can a cut of a mere $650,000 that allows access for individuals who cannot afford a computer (three in 10 in rural areas and two in 10 in urban locations) be justified?
Many CAP sites provide programs so people can become literate on the Internet.
What CAP provides is unquestionably "value for money."
This cut will disproportionately impact on people who are disadvantaged. Does this proposed cut mean that the federal government does not want people who are poor, youth looking for work, seniors, seniors looking for work, rural residents and others to have access to the hub of information available through the CAP sites?
This decision to decimate the CAP program is being made, according to Industry Canada, because the program’s goals have been reached.
Just in case Industry Canada missed it, "community access" in CAP stands for a place in our communities where access to information is available for those who want or need to rely on it.
With the greatest of respect, access to information is not a program that has a beginning or an end. It is a right to which everyone is entitled.
But if there is no opportunity, there is no right. By squeezing out those who rely on CAP, this decision will further disadvantage those who can least afford it.
Dulcie McCallum is the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy review officer for Nova Scotia ( www.foipop.ns.ca).