PC MLA Tim Halman says it’s disgraceful that the futures of students are being threatened by rumoured Liberal cuts to the Options and Opportunities (O2) program.
This week, students across the province repeatedly heard that the Options and Opportunities program for high school students in Nova Scotia may be cut by almost 70 percent next year.
“This is a life-changing program that guides young people down a path to success by offering them guidance, assistance and alternatives,” says Halman. “I can’t grasp why the Department of Education would ever consider depriving students of this opportunity to build a successful future.”
The O2 program has seen a steady decline in funding in recent years, originally operating with a budget of $25,000 per school. There are fears in the community that the Liberals will slash this budget to $2,500 per school by 2020.
Matthew LeBlanc, 20, graduated from O2 at Prince Andrew High School in 2016. He said the program opened up opportunities for him.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. O2 showed me I could have a great career in the trades,” LeBlanc said. “Now, I’m a heavy equipment operator with the largest construction company in the Maritimes. Without O2, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Halman says the rumoured cuts will be a tremendous loss for students. .
“Cuts to O2 would be tragic and short sighted — not just for students but for the organizations who have taken them in and shown them how fulfilling these career paths can be,” says Halman. “Students don’t deserve a 70 percent cut in programming. I stand with them in asking Minister Churchill to tell us what his government’s plans are for the O2 program.”
Halman says cuts to O2 would only emphasize how out of touch the Liberals are to the needs of Nova Scotians
“If anything, this shows just how out of whack the Liberal government’s priorities are,” says Halman said. “Suffice to say, when helping train our future generation and the success created by this program is treated as something we can shelf, you know there is a serious problem.”
Halman is calling on Education Minister Zach Churchill to confirm funding plans for next year’s O2 program.