Statement from the NDP – Liberal government cuts funding to camps for disabled and at-risk youth

November 25, 2014

This morning the Chronicle Herald is reporting the Department of Community Services has cut $480,000 from two summer camps for disabled and at-risk youth.

As a result, ReachAbility will have to terminate camps currently being operated in Inverness County and Annapolis County.

Minister Bernard did not provide a comment in the story. However on November 18, 2014 during question period NDP MLA Denise Peterson-Rafuse asked the Minister about funding cuts to the programs.

The NDP believes the Minister should be accountable for her decisions, which is why we are sharing her response below.

Joanne Bernard: “Actually, ReachAbility, the camp itself, is a program of the Department of Community Services, and quite frankly, we’re not in the business of providing camping experiences for different demographics within Nova Scotia. I took that $527,000, which was used for eight weeks, and I reinvested it into front-line services for youth at risk, which the money was supposed to be for. The rest of the money is going into services for persons with disabilities. It’s a much more efficient use of government funds.”

“Mr. Speaker, I’ll repeat again that camping and recreational facilities are not a core mandate of the Department of Community Services, and the former minister should know that. (Interruption) No, it hasn’t. It has been there for two years. It was originally for youth at risk, so that’s where the money is going: back into front-line services for youth at risk.”

“Of the people who went camping at Camp reachAbility, 65 per cent are already in residential facilities within the province. We’re already funding them for the programs that they need to live their full outcomes of being self-sufficient in the community. This is a good policy decision and I stand by it.”