Government should have heeded warning, provided for CAP program

NDP Education Critic Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North) says government should immediately take steps so the province’s libraries can continue to provide the invaluable services made possible by the Community Access Program. Furthermore, he says, the provincial government had more than ample notice to take the necessary budgetary measures.

The Harper Conservatives cancelled the CAP in this year’s budget. They had tried to take this step last year, but restored the program after a hail of public outcry. CAP provides support for community-based free internet access and computers, many of them housed in provincial libraries.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government was fully aware of the CAP’s tenuous existences, says Kirby, or it should have been. “The Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries Annual Report for 2010-11 points out quite clearly that public computer access, one of the most popular library programs in the province, was being threatened by the Harper Conservatives,” says Kirby. “Our provincial budget was delayed to allow our government to react to the federal one. Yet nobody apparently thought it worthwhile to set aside the needed funding that would continue to fund a service that is vital to thousands of the province’s residents.”

Kirby adds the associated CAP Youth Initiative provided employment to more than 100 of the province’s youth in 2010-11. Almost 150 CAP sites provide computer and internet access to Newfoundland and Labrador residents who would not otherwise have these vital tools, as well as to visitors to the province.

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