Vancouver Not Vegas, which fought a battle against a mega-casino in Vancouver that was partly motivated by anger over decreasing gaming contributions to charities, has issued a message to Premier Christy Clark:
If you really believe in “Families First,” save the Vancouver International Children’s Festival! Restore all gaming grants to all charities and non-profits in BC, and if you can’t find the money to do that despite skyrocketing gambling revenues, then why not look to the massive BCLC advertising budget? No one knows how large that budget it, but since the advertising is blanketing the province, it must be fairly massive. Suspend it and save the charities.
The full text of Vancouver Not Vegas’ message to Premier Clark is below.
Premier Clark: Do You Really Put Families First?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Vancouver Not Vegas organization calls on Premier Clark to immediately suspend expensive advertising campaigns for the BC Lottery Corporation and invest that money in the Vancouver Children’s Festival and almost 1,500 other BC charities that are on the brink of failure from cuts in gaming grants and other government funding.
June 3, 2011: The Vancouver Children’s Festival struggled to open its 2011 season this week due to government cutbacks. Just two weeks before its opening, the festival was informed of a further 50% cut in its gaming grant. The Children’s Festival has educated, inspired and entertained more than 1.6 million children in BC since 1978. It is the latest in a long list of BC charities and non-profits that face imminent closure. The Kelowna Women’s Resource Centre has already closed its doors. Why are we spending money on expensive marketing and advertising campaigns for the BC Lottery Corporation when vital community organizations that really put “families first” are dying?
We call on Premier Clark to take urgent action on her “Families First” agenda and save our vital community institutions today. We ask Premier Clark, as an emergency measure, to immediately suspend all BC Lottery Corporation marketing and advertising and divert that budget to charities and non-profits facing closure, pending the outcome of the upcoming gaming review. Vancouver Not Vegas further asks Premier Clark to order the BC Lottery Corporation to disclose its marketing and advertising budget to the public that pays for it.
“With the Stanley Cup finals upon us, we anticipate a massive BC Lottery Corporation marketing blitz,” says Sandy Garossino, a Vancouver businesswoman and co-founder of Vancouver Not Vegas. “Let’s show that we’re serious about supporting communities and get our priorities straight. Casinos should pay for their own advertising. The taxpayer should not subsidize private enterprise while charities that serve the public are left to starve.”
“The expansion of gambling in BC has only hurt the non-profit sector. The greater the BC Lottery Corporation revenue, the worse it gets for charities,” says Susan Marsden, president of the BC Association for Charitable Gaming. “The situation is now extreme. Gambling revenues are at historic highs, while almost 1500 BC charities are on the brink of closing their doors. We are more concerned now that this year’s budget calls for even further cuts to gaming grants.” Lindsay Brown, co-founder of the Vancouver Not Vegas coalition, agrees. “The public was assured that if gambling were expanded, significant revenues would be directed to the charities and non-profits that serve communities. That promise was broken and now families and communities are taking the hit.”
In addition to the Children’s Festival, cuts to gaming grants have affected programs that support brain injury survivors, services to families of the Canadian Armed Forces servicemen and women, support for seniors and youth at risk, as well as transportation of sick children to hospitals and treatment centres across BC.