A Nova Scotia literacy program faces major cuts as the federal government plans to change the way it funds labour-related programs.
The program at Windsor's Hants Learning Network is one of many a month away from losing $117,000 in federal funding. The money is being redirected to the planned Canada Jobs Grant.
That’s bad news for people like Fred Spencer and Pam Leary, both enrolled in the literacy program. Spencer is upgrading his education to improve his job prospects.
“I’m trying to get a better job. I’m tired of going out of province to work. I can’t apply for jobs because I don’t have my Grade 12,” he said.
Leary hopes to enter the workforce.
“I want to get my GED. I’ve raised my kids and thought it is finally time to get in the workforce,” she said.
60% cuts to classrooms
Ottawa plans to use the money for its new Canada Jobs Grant program. That would affect at least 800 adult learners in Nova Scotia.
“We're looking at cuts to our classroom of 60 per cent. That’s in program hours and classes available,” said Katharine McCoubrey of the Hants Learning Network.
Nova Scotia has 17 similar organizations face budget cuts of 25 per cent to 50 per cent funding from April 1.
Learning organizations from around Nova Scotia met in Halifax Tuesday. Organizers say they have no complaint about the jobs grant program, which would see employers paying for 30 per cent of training.
“There's merit in trying to leverage private money for training in the workforce. Our concern has been all along taking money from programs that are working to pay for the Canada Jobs Grant,” said Peter Gillis of the Community Learning Association.
Provinces could use transfer payments
Chrissy Matheson, spokeswoman for Nova Scotia’s department of labour and advanced education, said the federal government’s offer is a complex one.
It would allow provinces to dip into other transfers payments to pay for adult learning courses.
“Our main focus as we review the offer is to consider how it will impact or benefit all parties involved, especially those Nova Scotians who benefit from the valuable training and the committed organizations who offer these proven programs,” she said.
“We understand that this process is very stressful for the organizations who offer this programming. We are working hard to get some answers very soon.”
The provinces have until the end of this week to sign the deal.