Paint it Blue

Last week I read this article about the changes at the Government of Canada website.

The Conservative Party of Canada changing the theme of the website from one that reflected the colours of the Canadian flag to one that reflects the colours used by the Conservative Party of Canada. Coincidence? Hmmmm.

The interface has changed in other ways—now the government has decided to offer topical choices in drop down menus rather than the standby subject areas of each department or branch.

It has been getting harder and harder to find the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills but it is completely obscured on the new website. It is not part of any drop down menu and does not turn up in a searches for "literacy," "essential skills" or "Office of Literacy and Essential Skills."

I found it by putting "Office of Literacy and Essential Skills" into another search engine (I use DuckDuckGo). You can see it here:

The page is still there bit why is it hiding? Is it a re-branding oversight?

Or is it because, as Brigid Hayes reports, the Federal Government Continues to Lapse Literacy and Essential Skills Funds.

In January, we reported on funding cuts in the literacy field since the Conservative Party won its first minority. At the end of that post we asked, "Okay Literacy people, what will spring 2014 bring?"

Well so far, it seems, more of the same.

The federal government has shown great commitment to a plan that diverts tax dollars to the private sector to train employees and puts control of the jobs training agenda in the hands of employers but little commitment to lifelong education for people who are already facing discrimination in workplaces and in the communities where they live and hope to thrive.

The British Columbia Liberal government is following this lead. They spent $15 million last year advertising a jobs plan and this year, announced $1 million in cuts to community literacy programs in an effort to balance a budget.

In Ontario, under another Liberal government, we are in the final phases of the integration of the Literacy and Basic Skills program into Employment Ontario. Consultations are happening now and changes will be announced later. We will have more on this blog soon about what this means in terms of fostering a false causation link between literacy and employment but here is a little preview:
Given the fact that net employment is shrinking (as per many newspaper articles in recent days, weeks and months), there is a problem with linking literacy to employment in this way. Yes people who struggle with print want better jobs, but streamlining the links between ABE and resume-writing services is not going to do anything about the fact that there simply aren't jobs available! Similarly, requiring people on social assistance to prove that they are looking for work grows out of an ideology of the need to "activate" people who are considered "dependent" rather than out of evidence about what kinds of supports people need in order to actually move off of social assistance.

What is happening in your neck of the woods?