A delegation of Burns Lake residents including Mayor Luke Strimbold recently headed to Victoria in an effort to ensure that no services offered at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) will be lost.
The Burns Lake delegation spoke directly to Stephanie Cadieux, B.C. Minister of Children and Family Development. The ministry is the primary funder of the CNC family programs and has been overseeing the transfer of these programs to other agencies.
The CNC board of directors decided to transfer all family programs offered at the Lakes District campus to other agencies by March 2016.
According to Mayor Strimbold, since the contracts were surrendered by CNC, the ministry has been reassessing their priorities for the region, which means some changes to programming may be implemented. Strimbold said the ministry recently issued request for proposals that did not include many of the existing services.
However, according to Bill Anderson, a ministry Spokesperson, “no services the ministry was delivering from CNC are being cut.” When asked about the request for proposals that have been issued, the ministry simply repeated their previous statement.
The decision to transfer all family programs offered by CNC to other agencies could significantly impact the community. According to Anne Guarasci, FASD Training Lead for CNC, a loss or change in service structure could cause an increase in teenage pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, FASD and dependence on social assistance, as well as a decrease in stable housing and access to medical and prenatal care.
“The loss of these services is extremely concerning to our community,” said Mayor Strimbold. “This is not acceptable for our community; we cannot afford to lose these services.”