Premier Eva Aariak at a press conference in Iqaluit announcing that her government will step in to fund free public internet sites funded under the CAP program that the federal government eliminated this past March. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
JIM BELL - Nunavut May 25, 2012
The Government of Nunavut will spend $85,000 a year from the budget of the Department of Education to preserve free internet access sites in 20 Nunavut communities, Premier Eva Aariak said May 25.
"It is very important to provide that service to our communities in Nunavut, especially when those communities are so far from one another," Aariak said.
This past April, N-CAP, the Nunavut organization that received and administered money from the federal Community Access Program, learned the Harper government had eliminated the program in its budget this past March.
The volunteers who run CAP sites across Nunavut, most of which operate out of libraries or schools, feared numerous lower income residents would lose access to the internet.
"Even if people have their own computers, the cost of internet here is such that most families cannot afford it," Kim Crockatt, director of the Nunavut Literacy Council, told Nunatsiaq News this past April.
Many residents use CAP sites to update and print resumés, look for jobs and search for information.
Aariak, who also serves as minister of education, said the GN money will replace the funds that Ottawa has cut.
"In today's society it is so important that we keep up with the times in using technology in Nunavut," Aariak said.
Nunavut's Community Access Program [CAP] used to get $85,000 a year from Industry Canada, which paid for about a quarter of the program's cost.
Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak says the territory will replace the $85,000 a year of funding the federal government has cut from a community internet access program. (CBC)
The money will come from the Department of Education.
Premier Eva Aariak said the benefits for the more than 20 CAP site projects in Nunavut outweigh the cost.
"Everything learned during these projects contribute to building employability skills, which is so very important," she said.
"It is our goal to help Nunavummiut communicate and learn using information technology so they can participate in the growing digital society."
Industry Canada created the Community Access Program in 1995 to ensure all Canadians had a place to use computers and the internet for free.
The federal government discontinued the program in March, saying it had met its objectives and that most Canadians now had internet access at home or on their cellphones. Critics noted this is not the case in the North.
According to Statistics Canada, eight out of 10 Canadian households had access to the Internet in 2010, but Statistics Canada's internet usage surveys do not include Yukon, NWT and Nunavut.