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Ottawa- CUPE is demanding the federal Conservative government reverse its decision to cut funding for literacy organizations across Canada. Paul Moist, national president of CUPE, says the cuts will hurt Canada’s most vulnerable and hurt the economy.

“Adult literacy programs like the ones being cut are vital to Canadians trying to build better lives for themselves and their families,” said Moist. “Workers need these programs to gain essential skills needed by in our workforce. To simply cut them off doesn’t make economic or moral sense.”

The federal Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES), under the direction of Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney, is informing several literacy organizations across Canada that it is not approving their funding proposals. Without this funding, literacy organizations are being forced to lay off staff, review literacy and essential skills programs, and turn away Canadians in desperate need of skills training.

“Without these programs, thousands of Canadians won’t be able to build the skills they need to get good, well paying jobs,” said Moist. “This is a short-sighted move that will only increase unemployment and make it harder for employers to find qualified workers. Minister Kenney is abandoning Canadian workers and ignoring the needs of employers.”

OLES has administered literacy and essential skills program funding for years to help Canadians upgrade their basic skills to help them get good jobs. By refusing applications for funding under the Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program (ALLESP), it has eliminated the key funding many literacy organizations depend on to operate.

CUPE is calling on Minister Kenney and the federal Conservatives to renew ALLESP funding immediately.

“These have been incredibly successful initiatives that have helped thousands, if not millions, of Canadian workers,” said Moist. “We should be building on this success by expanding adult literacy programs, not dismantling them.”