CAMPBELL’S BAY – Over 30 people attended a public demonstration led by the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi du Pontiac, November 12, to protest government reforms that could threaten universal access to the organization’s services. A convoy of people carrying posters, banging pots and pans, and speaking on loud-speakers left the CJEP office on Leslie street and marched to the MRC Pontiac office and then to Andre Fortin’s office to voice their opinions and concerns.
The government recently announced plans to change the mission of all CJE organizations across the province from offering services to all people over 16 years old without exception to only those on social aid or employment insurance. Ginette Bourguignon, from the CJEP, said the reforms would mean that 75% of the CJEP’s current clients and 40,000 youth across the province could no longer benefit from their services. “Everyone knows young people are the future of Quebec. We must help everyone, regardless of their status, so they have a future in their area! Our services should continue to be offered to all young people,” said the CJEP in a press release.
According to Erin Davis, CJEP Development Agent, the proposed changes will affect all Pontiac residents regardless of whether they benefit from programs offered by the CJEP or not. “If people have no revenue, no access to job search services or to business training programs, where will they turn? What types of desperate behaviour will they resort to? If that doesn’t affect everyone, I don’t know what does. This government effort to save money will end up costing us more in areas that are worth far more than the bottom line,” she explained.
In the week prior to the protest, members of the CJEP attended the public consultation in Fort-Coulonge regarding cuts in the health care field to add their concerns and encourage attendees to join them in their protest march, as well as the one scheduled in Montreal on November 29th (see related story on page 2).