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With funding in limbo, inner-city youth resource centre faces layoffs, program cuts


A non-profit resource centre aimed at empowering youth in Winnipeg’s core says it is facing layoffs and a severe reduction in services, as its federal funding hangs in the balance.

Resource Assistance for Youth Inc., known as RaY, held a news conference Wednesday detailing the non-profit’s financial uncertainty.

Since 2018, RaY received millions in federal dollars through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy grant.

The organization says it has been “in a holding pattern” while funding decisions for its latest grant application, submitted in November 2023, are delayed in Ottawa.

RaY interim executive director Caryn Birch says she was told the delay is due to a high volume of applicants.

“Originally, we were told we would be hearing back at the end of April, early May, which we planned for financially as an organization,” Birch said.

“Now we are at month seven.”

RaY interim executive director Caryn Birch is pictured at a May 22, 2024 news conference. (Daniel Halmarson/CTV News Winnipeg)

Its previous funding ended on March 31, and the organization has been pulling money from other areas to compensate.

As a result, 12 staff members are facing layoffs, which would reduce services for 80 at-risk youth through the organization’s Level Up! Program. The seven-week paid training program provides in-class education and a 16-week work placement to empower youth to join the labour market.

Birch says the loss will have a significant impact on the youth RaY serves and their goals of financial independence and employment.

Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan says young people in the neighbourhood cannot afford to lose these services.

“We don’t have wiggle room in Winnipeg Centre to lose services and resources for young people. In fact, we need more,” she said.

“The fact that we have not heard about the funding places youth who are already at risk of being marginalized by systems further at risk.”

In an email to CTV News Winnipeg, a federal spokesperson said the fund received over 1,000 proposals from organizations across the country, surpassing the 2019 intake.

“Service Canada is assessing applications, with funding decisions expected in Spring 2024. Employment and Social Development Canada is diligently evaluating every application,” the spokesperson said.

“Due to the high volume of responses, not all eligible projects will receive funding.”

- With files from CTV’s Daniel Halmarson Top Stories

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