REALITY CHECK: B.C. Liberals Abandon Literacy On Eve Of ‘Raise-A-Reader’ Day

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In the latest example how the B.C. Liberals say one thing and then do another, it’s a good bet that Gordon Campbell will put himself front and centre at tomorrow’s Raise-a-Reader day, even as his B.C. Liberal government slashes funding for libraries by 22 percent, and cuts reading centres and literacy programs across the province.

More than four in ten adults in Vancouver struggle with basic literacy skills, but the B.C. Liberals are cutting libraries and literacy programs across the province:

  1. Books for Babies: provides parents of newborns with a bag with a book, a CD, and information about library services. The program was eliminated after the B.C. Liberals cut its funding, even after government MLAs touted the benefits of the program: This program was eliminated by B.C. Liberal cuts to libraries.
    • “Research clearly shows the importance of talking, singing and reading to newborn babies. Books for Babies helps create connections between B.C. libraries and families at a very early stage.”
      (Harry Bloy, May 5, 2008, Hansard:
    • “Madam Speaker, we have started book programs for families, Books for Babies. We are now providing books to kindergarten children, because we know that one of the most important things we can do is provide families with the opportunity to read to their children.
      (Shirley Bond, Feb. 27 2007, Hansard:
  2. Reading Centres: The B.C. Liberals eliminated grants to reading centres. Located in many of our smallest communities, the province’s reading centres get very little support from the province, yet often serve vast areas that have no other public access to books. For example:
    • When View Royal gave up its library charter to become a reading centre, the province promised to protect its access to funding. Despite that promise, the B.C. Liberals eliminated its $16,000 grant after the election.
  3. Regional Literacy Coordinators: The B.C. Liberals eliminated funding for 16 Regional Literacy Coordinators, who provided training to local and regional literacy providers, helped learners connect to programs in their region, and ensured that agencies were working together to provide the best possible coverage of literacy services. These literacy coordinators were especially important for rural communities, many of which lack full access to local programs to combat illiteracy. These positions were created just last year, in response to recommendations from the B.C. Auditor General.
  4. The B.C. Literacy Directory and the Read Line: were cut just weeks after the province eliminated the province’s Regional Literacy Coordinator positions across B.C. Now, with no regional coordination through RLCs, and funding cut to the B.C. Literacy Directory and Read Line, British Columbians who need help finding the right program for their needs will face even more obstacles.