Quebec youth centres plead for protection from budget cuts
Head of Batshaw Youth and Family Centres says cuts would undermine ability to provide services
The directors of youth centres across Quebec say they're worried about the effect of possible cuts in provincial funding on the kids who rely on their services.
Madeleine Bérard, head of Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, told CBC News that budget cuts over the last few years have already had an effect, and more cuts could be devastating.
She's anxiously waiting for word about next year's budget. Bérard said Batshaw has weathered previous cuts by slashing administrative costs, resulting in more work for fewer employees.
Some of the youth centre directors said the cuts have so far meant they spend more time filling out paperwork than helping at-risk youth.
"There's a lot of rumours out there right now. We're concerned," Bérard said.
Of special concern for Bérard is the impact new cuts could have on anglophone youth living in predominantly French-speaking areas of Montreal, particularly in the east end where services for them are already limited.
"In certain parts of the city, we're doing better. In others, there's no access to services. So for these children, it really becomes problematic to be able to help them," she said.
Bérard and other youth centre directors are calling on the province to prioritize children and youth, saying an investment in them is an investment in the province's future.
She argued that not helping vulnerable children now will cost the province more in the long run, particularly when it comes to social assistance, the justice system and health care.
She is asking the Liberal government to keep that in mind as it prepares to slash budgets in all departments.
The Quebec government is undertaking broad funding cuts in a bid to balance the province's budget by 2015-2016.