Literacy advocates rally against cuts to programs
$2 million will be cut and transferred to Canada Jobs Grant program instead
Adult literacy advocates from across Nova Scotia gathered in Windsor Wednesday morning to rally against federal cuts to adult literacy programs and services, including the decision not to grant the umbrella group Literacy Nova Scotia $200,000.
By fall of this year, $2 million will be cut and transferred to a new jobs program cost-shared with employers.
Last week Literacy Nova Scotia announced they are shutting down because the federal government pulled their funding.
About 100 people gathered outside the Hants Learning Network to rally against the cuts.
Katharine McCoubrey, executive director of the Hants Learning Network Association, said studies show that literacy levels are linked to health, social participation, volunteering in the community, employment, reduction in crime rate and reduced reliance on social assistance programs.
“It’s another example of not seeing the importance of increasing literacy in this country,” she said.
Nova Scotia has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country according to the Association of Nova Scotia Community Learning Organizations.
Melissa Young, who attended the rally, worked with the Hants Learning Networks to obtain her GED or high school equivalent.
"I was in Grade 8 when I had my first son. I failed a couple of times. I was 16 when I quit,” she said. “It’s not just the skills they give you, it’s the confidence, the motivation —stuff people around here need.”
There are currently 34 adult literacy programs in the province.
McCoubrey said 48 per cent of the Hants Learning Network Association's funding comes from Ottawa through the labour market agreement, totalling $130,000 a year.
Most literacy groups get between 15 and 50 per cent of their funds from Ottawa.
Adult literacy groups have been without that funding ever since March when Ottawa announced they would proceed alone with the Canada Jobs Grant program.
The province has stepped in to provide bridge funding, but that only lasts until the end of June.
Groups in Nova Scotia are still running full services for now but they will have to make deep staff and service cuts at the end of June if the province doesn't sign a new labour market agreement with Ottawa.
The 17 literacy groups affected by the cuts predict they will survive but they won't be able to offer night courses that are popular with working people.