Information via the internet doesn’t reach everyone

Added: Wed, 05/10/2017 - 11:07pm
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Connexion Fibre Picanoc recently submitted a $10 million funding request to two Quebec programs in order to connect 5,000 more residents in the Pontiac and Vallee-de-la-Gatineau MRCs to high-speed internet (see page 8).
Certainly, it is a well-founded, important request; both MRCs rank among the lowest in Quebec in terms of high-speed internet access, and as Warden Raymond Durocher stressed, many Pontiac residents are either settling for inadequate or intermittent service or are not able to access a connection at all. The services available can also be unreliable due to the high volume of users receiving connections through the antenna towers.
Everyone is well aware of the problem; residents, business owners, and all elected officials - municipal, provincial, and federal - and they all understand and
repeatedly stress how the issue is detrimental to an area's quality of life as well as its development.
Yet, why is there an ever-increasing trend of using the internet, particularly social media, as a way to get news out to the population, even in the Pontiac where
internet access is notorious for being sparse?
In recent years, there has been a notable shift to posting public notices such
as meeting announcements, events, funding opportunities, and other pertinent
information online – either on websites, social media, or through emails. Some have even turned to posting these notices on their doors or windows, accessible only to those who happen to visit the location and actually take notice.
Over a quarter of Canada's population does not have a Facebook account and an even larger number of people do not access social media – or the internet in general - on a regular basis.  Add these numbers to the
percentage of the population that either does not own a computer or is unable to access a reliable internet connection, and the result is that a large portion of society is being left in the dark regarding potentially important information. That's detrimental to quality of life and development!
It's important to keep the population informed about what's going on and what's available to them. It really makes a difference, especially for rural communities. For example, would more seniors or low-income families apply for money-saving or money-gaining measures like tax credits or programs like home renovations if the information about these measures were broadcast more widely than in an email, in a Facebook post, or on a website? What about community groups? Are some of them missing funding opportunities?  
Yes, not everyone reads newspapers, but they are a source every Pontiac resident – and anyone in general – has reliable access to if they want. The internet is a powerful tool as well, but it's one that not everyone can access adequately; it shouldn't be relied on as the one and only option. This is our  reality, and one we shouldn’t forget, or ignore.

Allyson BEAUREGARD
Rédacteur / Managing Editor