Habitat for Humanity on P.E.I. is feeling the pinch from the elimination of the Katimavik program, says NDP MP Charmaine Borg.
The 21-year-old Quebec politician is on the Island as part of a cross-Canada tour to support the embattled Katimavik youth program which had its $15 million operating budget axed by Heritage Minister James Moore in the last federal budget.
The Katimavik program saw teams of 15 youth age 17 to 21 drawn from across Canada assemble in three different host communities over the course of nine months, helping with community projects and non-profit organizations.
Katimavik had groups in Charlottetown, Alberton, Wellington and Summerside in recent years.
There was a group supposed to come to Charlottetown this year before the program was cut.
“Today in Charlottetown I went to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store,” said Borg.
“I was shown a graph of volunteer hours that were given to the organization and you can see the direct drop when Katimavikers stopped coming.That is a significant amount of hours that they don’t have anymore,.”
Borg said the impact of not having 15 young people come through, donating their time and effort, 35 hours or more a week, is going to leave a mark.
“There is definitely a push to get the program revived,” said Josh Coles of Charlottetown, a graduate of the Katimavik program.
“It’s been taken away once before,” he said. “It’s been cut, the funding has been added. Every few years it has changed its status over the past 30 years.
“People are really trying to push to get the funding brought back this time,” said Coles.
“I really want to get a feel for what Katimavik’ers did, what the impact will be of these cuts and what the impact was of Katimavik being there,” said Borg.
She wants to bring that information back to the House of Commons and give “legitimate testimony” to Moore who canceled the program.
“There is definitely a push to get the program revived,” - Josh Coles, Charlottetown
She knows he is unaware of the impact of the cut because of his answers, Borg said.
“When I asked a question (about cutting Katimavik) in the House, the minister answered that it was the easiest decision ever for him to make, of all the decisions he has to make as the Minister of Heritage. With an answer like that, I am led to think that he doesn’t understand quite what this program is all about.”
People can sign online petitions against the cuts, said Borg. Links are available at the Katimavik website.