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Federal funding cuts shrink literacy council

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Cambridge Bay (Nov 20/06) - Federal literacy cuts have claimed the first victim at the Nunavut Literacy Council.

One full-time staff member has left the council for another opportunity, and her position will no longer be staffed.

"We were in a position where we would have to lay off a staff member. I had already reduced my salary and other staff members had (volunteered) to," said Kim Crockatt, director of the Nunavut Literacy Council.

"She was the last person we had hired, and she knew that she would be the first one cut. If we get some of our funding back, hopefully we can get her back."

The staff member's departure has delayed the inevitable for Crockatt and her band of literacy experts.

If more funding does not soon become available, there will be more job losses.

Federal funding reductions won't just hurt the operation of the literacy council, it will hurt the body's potential to access other funding. More than $17 million has been cut for the next two years.

Last year, the council used its $256,000 in federal funding to access between $800,000 and $1 million in other funding.

It has to be federal money, according to Crockatt.

"The provinces and territories have always been reluctant to fund general training," she said. "If you fund skills training in Newfoundland, those people go to work in Alberta. That's why the federal money was established back in the Mulroney era.

"We just don't have the money to write endless proposals for funding. We have to stop looking at literacy as a charity. Bake sales aren't going to cut it," she said.

What is even more frustrating is that the council members don't even know where the money is being cut.

Crockatt just returned from a national meeting of literacy coalitions, and people are shaking their heads across the country, she said.

"They won't tell us that (what exactly was cut and where). They won't tell the provinces and territories. When we do up the math, it just doesn't add up," said Crockatt.