Reprieve for literacy programs?

Province: MLA says restored funding should reverse cut to LASS.

Shuswap MLA George Abbott is quite sure Education Minister Don McRae’s March 25 announcement means co-ordinator funding will be restored to the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap (LASS).

The alliance was one of 55 community organizations whose co-ordinator funding was withdrawn by Decoda Literacy Solutions, the agency that receives funding from the Ministry of Education and distributes it to literacy groups across the province.

Decoda made the cuts March 1 after the ministry reduced funding by $1 million for the second year in a row. Using its own reserve funds last year, Decoda kept its funding at the same level but said it was unable to do so this year.

The irony of the $30,000 loss in funding to LASS was that two weeks before the mid-February announcement, the organization was singled out by the premier with a Council of the Federation Literacy Award for outstanding achievement, innovative practice and excellence in literacy.

Abbott, who had praised the alliance for its work and accomplishments, went to bat for LASS, directing his appeals directly to McRae.

The minister met with Decoda reps early in March, promising  he would “do his best to find some savings and efficiencies.”

McRae’s announcement, made Monday at a Decoda conference in Vancouver, confirmed $1 million in funding will be restored to the organization.

“The funds will be used to further support 102 community literacy task groups in B.C.,” says a Ministry of Education press release. “These community organizations make an important contribution to the development of individual and family literacy skills through the delivery and co-ordination of literacy programs.”

Ministry officials referred specific information on where funding would be restored to Decoda, which had not responded to calls from the Observer by press time.

But Abbott was firm in his belief LASS will soon be in receipt of the $30,000 to support co-ordinator Jen Findlay’s position for another year.

“I don’t speak for Decoda either, but I know the people at Decoda and I am completely confident that with the additional resources, she can look forward to having the same literacy initiative as last year,” he said Tuesday. “There’ll be hell raised if there isn’t, but Decoda is a good organization and I have no doubt now that they have the funding, they will restore funding to the Shuswap.”