OTTAWA—The Conservative government is quietly cutting funding to hundreds of community groups and even hospitals that provide free Internet access to Canadians who might not otherwise have a chance to get online.
Organizations that benefit from Industry Canada's 16-year-old Community Access Program began receiving letters last week informing them that sites located within 25 kilometres of a public library would no longer be eligible for cash.
Groups had been receiving between $4,000 and $5,000 a year to buy computers and other hardware, such as printers and wireless routers; to pay for technical support and skills training; and sometimes to pay for the connection bills.
Organizations that have used the program include employment and youth drop-in centres, English-as-a-second-language programs, libraries, and seniors groups.
In rural areas, such organizations are often clustered in the middle of town and near the local library, meaning they are the most likely to be hit by the change in funding criteria.
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