We're No. 15 in Internet use

By Pierre Bourque
The Hill Times

These days the Government of Canada is busier than an electrician on a construction site. It has to be because the world has been bitten by the Internet bug and Canada simply can't afford to play catch-up in the digital age.

What's happening is that Industry Canada's program to wire up rural communities to the Internet is in full operation.

The program, nicknamed "Community Access Program" cap.unb.ca , last week gave the go-ahead to a number of projects across the country, including 135 communities in Quebec, 89 in Ontario, 15 in Alberta, and 25 in Manitoba. The feds say they want "to make Canada the most connected nation in the world" by establishing "up to 10,000 access sites in remote, rural and urban settings by the end of fiscal year 2000-01."

However, it is worth noting that Canada rates No. 5 in the Computer Industry Almanac's listing of top 15 countries in Internet usage. The survey, found online at www.c-i-a.com/199902iu.htm , suggests an overall online population of 147-million Internet users.

The U.S.A., to no surprise, boasts 76.5-million users, Japan has 9.75-million, the U.K. hosts 8.1-million, Germany has 7.14-million, and we Canucks number close to 6.5-million onliners. The report goes on to crystal-ball that, "There will be about 320-million Internet users worldwide at year-end 2000 and over 720-million users by year-end 2005."

As an aside, it is interesting to note that China rates No. 15 on the list with 1.58-million users. According to Karen Petska, the Almanac's editor-in-chief, "The thing that is most surprising is that some isolated countries have the highest number of Internet users on a per capita basis than other countries -- even the U.S."

She says "That's partly because they use the Internet for conducting a lot of their import and export business which accounts for a large portion of their gross national product. For those countries the Internet replaces the use of mail, telephone and fax which was either too slow, expensive or both. The Internet makes sense for Australia and New Zealand for the same reason."

By comparison, NUA Internet Surveys (www.nua.ie ) suggests an overall online population of 153-million as of February, 1999. It qualifies that figure by noting that "The art of estimating how many are online throughout the world is an inexact one at best."

The other day the web tracker for my site BOURQUE NEWSWATCH picked up traffic from a homepage run by the Canadian Injured Workers Alliance (www.ciwa.ca ). Curious, I clicked on the hyperlink and took a look. And I'm glad I did because it's a great resource.

The CIWA is "a national network of injured workers groups." It exists to "support and strengthen the work of local and provincial groups, by providing a forum for exchanging information and experiences of injured workers groups across Canada."

The site hosts a fair amount of resources and links. It also offers interested parties that chance to learn about new CIWA projects, read their quarterly "Highlights" newsletter, and provide comments, share experiences, and relay stories with fellow injured workers.

University of Waterloo student Milton Chan has an interesting online project related to the next Ontario general election. His "Riding-by-Riding Prediction" web site (www.arts.uwaterloo.ca/~m6chan ) invites you to "predict the result of the 1999 Ontario provincial election riding by riding ... by collecting opinion/input from any individuals or quotes from media."

Pierre Bourque is editor of Bourque Newswatch at


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