In 2009, then-premier Gordon Campbell stated, “There is no skill more fundamental than literacy, and the people who are helping B.C. become the most literate jurisdiction on the continent deserve recognition.”
That goal has gone off course given that the current government has slashed funding for literacy programs across the province, including $30,000 for Vernon’s Junction Literacy Centre.
“The challenging economic climate has required many government ministries to review their budgets and focus on core services,” states Jacqueline van Dyk, with the Ministry of Education, in a letter to the Junction.
Everyone is well aware of the impact the recession has had on finances, particularly for non-profit agencies. But the demand for services isn’t going away, which means the Junction is having to do more with less.
In this case, the $30,000 takes away from Junction’s ability to co-ordinate programs. Without that administrative structure in place, providing programs is undermined and that could be devastating for children and families.
Not willing to raise the white flag, Junction staff are pursuing other funding sources, including turning to the community, which already generously supports a range of literacy initiatives.
But that’s a common theme with the government — downloading on to communities to fulfill the responsibilities abandoned by Victoria.
Current government officials insist the economy of the future depends on a highly educated workforce. But that goal will be increasingly difficult to achieve if some children can’t access much-needed literacy programs.
It is time for the government to reconsider its strategy and take action.
—The Morning Star