Literacy activists appeal to Hearn over cuts
Literacy activists in Newfoundland and Labrador say they are determined to see federal funds restored to adult education programs, although they have not yet been able to win support from key politicians.
As part of a national series of rallies, activists marched in several communities in the province, including in St. John's where they aimedto attract the attention of federal cabinet representative Loyola Hearn.
Hearn— the federal fisheries minister and MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl— was not able to meet with representatives from Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador and affiliated groups, although a staff member attended a meeting and promised to keep lines of communication open.
"I wasn't expecting solutions here today," said Kim Gillard, executive director of Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador.
"As each day passes, it gets more disappointing."
The federal government cut almost $18 million in literacy program funding, as part of a broader package of cuts announced in September.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the cut amounts to nearly $800,000.
"We are the poorest cousin in the education system. We have nothing," teacher Helen Woodrow told a rally in St. John's.
Tom Dawe, who workers with Teachers on Wheels, said the cut makes no economic sense.
"When you look at the type of decision that was made, you almost get the sense that this wasn't really looked at from a lot of different angles," Dawe said.
"It might have made sense to somebody from a very narrow scope, but this rings of something [that] wasn't well thought out at the time."
Adult education essential: former student
Richard Millar, who is completing his training for a bridge watchman's certificate in St. John's, credits an adult education program with helping to turn his life around.
Once unable to read or write, he couldn't read the doctor's number in the phone book when his young son suffered a medical emergency that put his life at risk.
"That was a wake-up call," Millar told CBC News.
"I actually cried thinking about the situation, not being able to read, and not being able to help my son."
Millar will graduate from the program in the spring.