PEI Literacy Alliance facing imminent closure due to lack of funds
Group needs $150,000 by Sept. 27, says reserves are depleted due to Harper-era funding cuts
The acting head of the PEI Literacy Alliance says it will be forced to close unless it finds $150,000 in funding by Sept. 27.
- 'I feel really proud': Former dropout wins Literacy Award, credits kids for inspiring him
- 'It's a reality now': PEI Literacy Alliance in danger of closing
The alliance promotes literacy and delivers several programs to thousands of Island families including one-on-one summer tutoring for children and tutoring for adults.
That's the hand we've been dealt here.— Sean Casey, Charlottetown MP
Acting executive director Amanda Beazley said the alliance set Sept. 27 as the deadline for closure at its annual general meeting.
"If we don't secure adequate, predictable and stable funding by that point … we'll be forced to close our doors."
The group has been warning of the deadline for the past year.
"Our cash reserves at this point have run out. We've been operating on a reduced capacity," said Beazley.
"It's really a very small amount of money when you look at what the value is."
The closure will have a "significant impact" on vulnerable Islanders who lack literacy, Beazley warned. She said 45 per cent of Islanders between the ages of 16 and 65 "don't have the literacy skills needed to fully participate in our knowledge-based economy."
'Achieve the same goals'
Charlottetown MP Sean Casey has been working to try to convince his government to restore core funding cut by the previous Conservative government in 2014, but has been unsuccessful.
"It's almost certain that we will not be successful in advance of this Sept. 27 date," said Casey from his office in Ottawa. "The answer from the department is arrangements other than core funding are in place to achieve the same goals."
The federal government asserts that literacy initiatives can be supported another way — through project funding rather than core funding for organizations, Casey explained, adding that he doesn't agree.
He said the province and federal government are currently negotiating a "significant increase" in labour market transfer agreements through which the federal government suggests literacy programs be funded.
"In other words, the federal government is essentially handing over an envelope to the provincial government and having these programs administered more closely."
'The hand we've been dealt'
The federal government's approach doesn't work for the PEI Literacy Alliance, said Beazley.
She said labour market transfer agreements are focused on adults and don't provide the group with enough funding for children and family literacy programs or for office staff.
"It's the staff who are developing and delivering programs," said Beazley. "Maintaining that base of knowledgeable staff is crucial when you're working in community."
The province supports the alliance's Summer Tutoring Program with annual funding of $27,500, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement Monday.
P.E.I. also gave the alliance $15,000 this year to provide literacy tutoring camps on professional development days throughout the school year, according to the statement.
The funds from the province are appreciated but aren't enough, Beazley said.
Casey says it's unlikely the federal government will reinstate core funding to all such groups across the country, and is urging the group seek a short-term solution involving the provincial government.
"I wish it was different," he said. "That's the hand we've been dealt here."
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | Farm machinery vandalized in western P.E.I.
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | Profit up, as ALC looks to create new, 'entertainment-based' games and products
With files from CBC Radio: Island Morning