Adult learners rally to send strong message to federal government

Ashley Thompson
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Locals fear funding cuts will have negative impact on community

The federal government’s call to cut funding to community literacy groups hits home for Mike Boutilier.

Boutilier, 35, recently learned how to read by taking classes at the Dartmouth Learning Network.

Addressing a crowd of about 100 spectators at a Learning for Earning Rally hosted outside of the Hants Learning Network’s headquarters on Water Street in Windsor May 21, Boutilier said education is the key to “almost everything in life.”

“As I’m looking at these signs, I couldn’t read them. It’s amazing I can read them today,” he added.

Placing the audience in his shoes, Boutilier said he wasn’t able to understand the full capabilities of the latest technological devices because he couldn’t read the manuals.

“I’ve got a smartphone — it’s smarter than me,” he joked. 

He urged supporters of community literacy programs to stay strong, share their success stories and let the government know how valuable adult learning organizations are to the people who need them most.

“The government has to realize cutting is hurting, and the hurting’s got to stop,” he said.

NDP MP Robert Chisholm, the representative of Dartmouth–Cole Harbour, told demonstrators he is committed to relaying that message in Ottawa.

“We need to make sure that the federal government does not back away from commitments that have been made to ensure that all Canadians have an opportunity to train for work,” he said.

Chisholm vowed to push the federal government to reconsider the approved funding cuts to literacy organizations.

“What’s most important to me, and what’s most important, I believe, for Canada is that you have an opportunity to learn, that you have an opportunity to contribute as much as you want to your community, because that’s what’s going to make this a great country,” he said, to applause.

The federal cuts will result in $2 million in Labour Market Agreement funding supporting adult literacy services being transferred to a new, employer-led skills training program.

Organizations providing literacy and essential skills training throughout Nova Scotia are still waiting to learn how much annual government funding each group stands to lose. Decisions regarding changes to service levels will be made when that information is available.

Umbrella organization Literacy Nova Scotia, on the other hand, already has an answer. It will lose about $200,000 in annual funding.

Closer to home, the Hants Learning Network Association (HLNA) has received up to 48 per cent of its funding from Ottawa to date.

 

Organizations: Dartmouth Learning Network, Hants Learning Network Association

Geographic location: Water Street, Windsor, Ottawa Canada Nova Scotia

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  • Ida
    June 09, 2014 - 17:39

    I am Adult learner there is no need to cut back on Literacy there adult learners who need to learn how to read and write This has to stop now and I want my voice to be heard now