B.C. Liberals gutting community-based literacy programs

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VICTORIA –The B.C. Liberals are gutting essential community-based literacy programs across B.C., making it harder for people to get the basic literacy skills they need to succeed, say the New Democrats.

“Literacy programs are vital to helping children succeed in school and helping adults find and keep jobs,” said New Democrat education critic Rob Fleming. “And yet the Liberals are cutting funding for programs that tens of thousands of British Columbians depend on in more than 400 communities across the province.”

Decoda Literacy Solutions, the network of community-based literacy providers that works throughout the province, said in a letter to the Minister of Education that their funding in the 2013/14 budget is being slashed from $2.5 million to $1 million, and they fear funding could be cut completely in the 2014/15 budget.

At a press conference with community literacy workers in Victoria today, Fleming noted that these cuts were made even after the bi-partisan finance committee unanimously voted to keep annual funding for community literacy work at $2.5 million.

“Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender are ignoring the wishes of their own Liberal MLAs who traveled the province and heard about how important it is to continue funding a program that helps people across B.C. find work,” said Fleming.

Funding for Decoda was also slated to be cut in the 2012/2013 budget, but after strong arguments from the organization, experts and community members, then Minister of Education Don McRae reinstated it, saying “they do outstanding work in communities large and small across the province.”

“Under the B.C. Liberals, there is a pattern of organizations having to fight for stable funding,” said Fleming. “Gutting these programs deprives families of opportunities and is a poor economic decision,” said Fleming.

“It’s disgraceful that the Liberals spent $15 million last year advertising their so-called “jobs plan,” but are ready to cut this efficient, low-cost program that helps tens of thousands of British Columbians achieve the literacy and numeracy levels they need to get good family-supporting jobs.”