Volume 94, Issue 99

Wednesday, March 28, 2000


NEWS

OUSA tackles real students with debt

USC is 'all ears' for students

Huron memorial mourns student loss - Jordan Propas remembered

JSU honours Holocaust victims in annual 24-hour UCC vigil

StatsCan links income to Internet

More meningitis hits London

Briefs

His Royal Mintiness

StatsCan links income to Internet

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

A digital divide separates poor and undereducated Canadians from cyberspace, according to a new survey by Statistics Canada.

The survey reports that in the year 2000, 53 per cent of all Canadians were using the Internet, an increase of 18 per cent from 1994.

While 80.5 per cent of households with incomes of $80,000 or more were online, only 32.8 per cent of households making $30,000 or less were connected to the Internet. Divisions were also present in education levels, with 79.6 per cent of individuals with a university degree using the Internet, compared with only 30.9 per cent of individuals who had less than a high school education.

Heather Dryburgh, co-author of the study and an analyst for Statistics Canada, said the findings indicate that Internet users are divided by income and education.

"In general, Canadians are also divided on who should remove the barriers [to the Internet]," she said, noting approximately 42 per cent of respondents thought the federal government should be responsible, while 45 per cent felt it should be up to the individual.

Elise Boisjoly, executive director of Industry Canada's SchoolNet program, an initiative bringing the Internet to young Canadians by connecting schools, said federal Internet access strategies have been in place since 1996.

"There is always the concern of who can access the Internet and who cannot – or who wants to, but doesn't have the money or the skills," she said.

Boisjoly said the Community Access Program, an Industry Canada initiative, currently provides 9,100 public access sites in schools and community centres, where people can learn to use the Internet by trained staff.

"The goal of this program is to provide community access," she said.

Carole Farber, a media, information, and technoculture professor at Western, said the disparity is not surprising. "SchoolNet and the Community Access Program have certainly made a difference in providing more access points to Canadians," she said. She noted that partnerships between government and private industry, with a community-based approach, would also be beneficial in providing Internet access for Canadians currently separated by the digital divide.

Shawn Sims, a technical support employee of Odyssey Network Inc., a Canadian Internet service provider, said it should be an individual's responsibility to ensure access, not the government or the private sector.

He said he thinks it is the high price of computers that prevents many Canadians from getting online.


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