Bureaucrats work in mysterious ways

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We sometimes think we will never understand how the mind of a government bureaucrat works.

We really do try.

We read government news releases and attempt to discern what they are trying to say. For those of you who may not have had the pleasure of reading such documents, the main goal often appears to be making sure the appropriate cabinet minister/MLA/MP gets maximum credit for whatever. The actual news is often hidden in paragraph five or six.

And we sit through just about every public meeting in Hay River and listen intently to try to understand what is being said. Again, that is not always easy. Sometimes it appears decisions are already made in Yellowknife and public meetings are just an exercise in public relations.

And of course, there’s also the perplexing question of why some bureaucrats almost always answer their phones, while others virtually never do and a caller is condemned to voicemail purgatory.

But of all the strange actions by government bureaucrats, the most mysterious is a decision to cut funding from something that is working. You would think that government would support a successful program at all costs.

A case in point is the decision by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to cut support for Hay River’s Growing Together program for young children and their parents.

For 22 years, Growing Together has helped many families get through the challenges of raising children under five years of age. It is valuable to both the children and their parents, mostly young mothers.

It’s mystifying that the territorial government would gradually eliminate funding for Growing Together over the coming three years – as one funding program morphs into another – without any guarantee the support will be replaced.

And that’s not just our opinion. We heard it much more strongly expressed from about 15 women who showed up at Growing Together on a cold Jan. 29 evening to express their concerns to Hay River MLA R.J. Simpson.

They told how Growing Together helps them through the challenges of being mothers, often as newcomers to the community and far away from the support of their families.

They said Growing Together offers help and advice on parenting, even how to prepare nutritious meals. It also provides a space for young mothers to discuss common challenges.

And, Growing Together was credited with helping young mothers deal with loneliness and even depression.

It was a moving hour to hear how vitally important the program is to so many people.

We’ll give bureaucrats the benefit of the doubt and say that they really didn’t understand what they were doing by cutting funding to Growing Together.

But Growing Together and its clients are determined to make their case, and we hope bureaucrats will listen and other funding will be found.

You may be wondering why we are criticizing bureaucrats, but not politicians. Well, except for big issues when politicians might get involved, it certainly seems that departments – i.e. bureaucrats – establish the numerous details of government operation with perhaps a rubberstamp from our elected representatives.

But that is no mystery, at all.

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