Nova Scotia

Ecology Action Centre decries cuts to walk to school programs

The Ecology Action Centre has denounced the Nova Scotia government's decision to cut their 'long-standing and highly successful' walk and bike to school programs across Nova Scotia.

3 programs were cut by 100 per cent in April's budget announcements

The Ecology Action Centre has received funding for walk to school programs for the last 12 years. (Associated Press)

The Ecology Action Centre is denouncing the Nova Scotia government's decision to cut their walk to school programs across the province.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Halifax-based environmental organization slams cuts to their "longstanding and highly successful walk and bike to school" initiatives, which affect all active transportation programs for youth in Nova Scotia. 

"This will hurt kids across the province," said Janet Barlow, the centre's active transportation coordinator.

The EAC has received funding for these programs over the last 12 years. Three years ago, their annual funding increased from $50,000 to $105,000 per year. 

Under the Darrell Dexter government, the centre had three active transportation programs approved for funding under Thrive, the province's healthy living plan. They say their programs have involved 24 schools and over 2,000 students in Nova Scotia. In addition to helping kids become more active, the programs were also designed to encourage pedestrian and biking safety.

The three programs include:

  • School Travel Planning: designed to assist school and community groups in developing safer commutes to school by foot or bicycle.
  • Making Tracks: designed to teach youth safety skills in walking, cycling, in-line skating, scootering and skateboarding. 
  • Active Transportation 101: a toolkit for communities to develop their own active transportation programs. 

Barlow said she doesn't understand why their programs were cut by 100 per cent because other non-profit organizations and their programs received around 20 per cent less funding after April's budget.  

She says the organization waited until June to announce the cuts after attempting to negotiate with the Department of Health and Wellness.  

"No government wants to reduce or eliminate funding to organizations," Tony Kiritsis, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Wellness, said in a statement. "But, government had to make some difficult decisions this year, and this was one program that we are unfortunately no longer able to support."

Kiritsis also said the Nova Scotia government will continue to support active living by funding other provincial programs, including Swim to Survive and Sport Nova Scotia.

"We support physical literacy in child care settings; we provide funding for after school activities and for low income families to access facilities," he said.

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