N.B. literacy minister plans summit, vows to fix problems raised by AG
Post-Secondary Education Minister Donald Arseneault is promising to straighten out some problems with literacy programs after the province's auditor general reported this week that at least one agency isn't doing its job.
Auditor General Mike Ferguson's annual report indicated that Literacy New Brunswick Inc. isn't fulfilling its mandate. The group hasn't produced an annual report for eight years and hasn't held an annual meeting for seven years.
Arseneault, who is responsible for literacy, said he accepts the criticisms of the provincially created agency, which was originally set up to distribute government funding to local literacy programs.
Arseneault said he will convene a summit on April 15 — which is New Brunswick Literacy Day — when he plans to sort out the problems raised by the auditor general with several of the province's literacy groups.
"We're all on the same page. Everyone wants to attack this problem," Arseneault said.
"Sometimes we see everyone working in silos and I think there aren't enough synergies among the various groups to make sure the programs in place have a direct impact and it's really creating the results we're looking for."
Literacy NB was supposed to have no government involvement, but its only employees were civil servants who worked with $2 million annually. The agency used to get money from the provincial government and hand it to regional literacy committees.
The auditor general's report indicated there are no written agreements with grant recipients and not enough monitoring of classes.
Literacy NB eliminated
Arseneault has recently cut the agency out of the process in favour of government giving the money directly to regional committees.
"The last thing I want to see is all this money goes into administration cost and not really to the people who need it," he said.
Deanna Allen, the executive director of the non-profit group Laubach Literacy, said she agrees with the auditor's report but says things are already getting better.
"There are clearer plans and more specific goals attached to all of the activity than there has been in the past," she said.