Industry Canada’s Community Access Program
‘Country Country Regional Envelope’
Rural communities have been strengthened, isolation reduced, inclusion of youth, seniors and disadvantaged groups facilitated. One program, a national success, has provided educational, employment and learning opportunities to all. Introduced in 1994, Industry Canada’s Community Access Program (CAP) has helped places such as schools, community centres and libraries obtain computers and internet access that otherwise they would be unable to afford.
To assist the CAP sites Industry Canada’s CAP Youth Initiative (CAP YI) program, funded through Human Resources and Social Development Canada Youth Employment Strategy (YES) provides youth employment opportunities. CAP-YI interns have successfully helped CAP sites promote and enable residents to use the current communication technologies offered through CAP by providing free computer and internet training.
CAP has had a tremendous impact on rural communities, providing technological and internet services that would not otherwise be available due to topography and/or cost factors.
On behalf of Industry Canada, the Technology Alliance Group (TAG) for Kawartha Lakes has administered the Community Access Program (CAP) in the 'Cottage Country Regional Envelope' which includes the District of Muskoka, Simcoe and Haliburton Counties and the City of Kawartha Lakes. This region is a network of 60 KLCAP public access locations
Groups using KLCAP services include those in rural areas, low income, new Canadians, people with disabilities and others at risk of social exclusion. It is proven that technology literacy can make an economic difference for each of these special groups of people. Here are a few of their stories:
Keeping Families Connected
Recently, a middle-aged man visited the Simcoe County Library Co-operative CAP site to access employment information. Upon striking up a conversation with staff he informed them that he had been homeless for a period of time and had lost contact with his only relative, a sister. He was instructed on how to navigate the internet and began an on-line search for her at this CAP station. A few weeks later, he discovered that she had moved to New Hampshire and had created a website in an attempt to find him. They were able to immediately begin an electronic correspondence as a result of free public access that CAP offers. This is only one of the many instances that the CAP sites have significantly influenced family connections.
The Angus Internet station reports that military trainees wishing to maintain contact with their families via email are frequent users.
Many CAP sites also report that during summer months many tourists use the computers to stay in touch with family and friends.
Removing Barriers for Individuals
By purchasing Zoomtext Software the Gravenhurst Public Library now provide service to a section of the public that they had not been able to help previously. As a result of this newly purchased software individuals with vision limitations are able to utilize the computer and access the internet successfully.
Ramara Township Public Library also reports that “the new accessible workstation purchased and setup with the last round of funding has proven to be very helpful with visually and hearing impaired individuals.”
Service for New Canadians
A family of recently landed immigrants from the Philippines approached the Essa Public Library for assistance. As a result of the free public access services provided they were able to apply for their Canadian Citizenship.
In many instances school children who do not have computers at home use the CAP services to complete homework assignments and research. The Ramara Township Public Library has assisted a “local group of home schooling parents” complete “educational training with their older children.”
The Lafontaine CAP Centre located in the Township of Tiny provides assistance to the local Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre with their “… outreach computer programs, such as resume writing, job search and various other programs they offer.” Furthermore, the Township of Tiny’s Kinder Camp brings the camp kids to “… a morning of cyber experience during their 2 week camp experience.”
One work station located at the Coldwater Public Library is utilized once weekly by literacy students and their instructor.
Clients of the Social Services Department remain to be one of the largest user groups reported across CAP sites seeking employment and government services. Various senior groups also complete basic computer training at available CAP locations.
The Bracebridge Public Library reported that during the months of “…October and November 07 their Trainer (CAP YI) met with 78 individuals to offer one-to-one training on their public internet terminals.”
More Good News about the Cottage Country Regional CAP Program
TAG believes that education is the best way to break the cycle of poverty. Regional CAP sites continue to bridge the digital divide and promote community inclusion by providing free computer and internet training to residents of rural communities.
For More Information contact:
Lynda Rickard, Executive Director
Technology Alliance Group (TAG) for Kawartha Lakes
189 Kent St. W., Suite 215
LINDSAY, ON K9V 5G6