Federal cuts hit aboriginal youth program
CTV British Columbia
Published Monday, June 25, 2012 5:07PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:13PM PDT
Another federal funding freeze is putting a Vancouver program for aboriginal and disabled youth in jeopardy.
The Red Fox Healthy Living Society encourages children to get active, learn leadership skills and get in touch with cultural traditions. Red Fox’s Emma Sutherland told CTV News that the program can make a big difference in young people’s futures.
“Youth that started in our program are working full time, they've gone to college to get training in recreation and food security, they have great relationships with their friends and family, they’re graduating from high school, they’re resolving conflict,” she said.
But a federal grant that makes up 60 per cent of Red Fox’s funding has been put on hold, putting the entire program at risk.
“This came as a huge shock. We were told that it had been approved by the federal budget, had passed the review process, and then when it went to the Treasury Board, all of a sudden the story changed,” Sutherland said.
“I believe if the federal government were to actually look closely at what's happening across Canada, they would applaud what we're doing and not take away our funding.”
Red Fox has already spent $25,000 in anticipation of the funding, which normally comes in around this time of year. The funding freeze means that summer programs have now been cancelled.
The money used to come through a national program called Cultural Connections, which also supports similar programs across the country. Vancouver East NDP MP Libby Davies described the sudden uncertainty for those groups as “reprehensible.”
“These organizations are small organizations. They need to know what their funding future is; they have to pay people every month,” she said.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan faced questions about the funding freeze last week in the House of Commons.
“We will be realigning the program to meet our current needs for skills training, development and job readiness for aboriginal youth, so we're putting the train back on the tracks,” he told MPs.
Duncan wasn’t available to answer questions Monday, but his press secretary issued a similar statement about the program for aboriginal youth, saying, “We are concerned that it is not currently meeting their most pressing needs.”
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Maria Weisgarber