Pete McMartin of the Vancouver Sun has begun an excellent series on the BC government’s cuts to gaming grants to charities.
This article, the third in the series, is titled “Charities reeling from steady erosion of gaming grants.” It is printed in part below. Note: more McMartin columns are upcoming. Regularly check in on his column index.
Charities reeling from steady erosion of gaming grants
By Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun, December 10, 2010.
Speaking of charity — ’tis the season, after all — here’s what’s happening around the province.
In Kelowna, the non-profit Project Literacy Kelowna Society issued a press release Friday announcing it was “in jeopardy of closing its doors.”
The society has suffered a steady erosion of gaming grants from the provincial government over the last three years, from $80,000 in 2008-09, to $60,000 in 2009-10, to $40,000 in 2010-11.
The society, with three employees, promotes literacy for adult learners. At present, its 150 volunteer tutors help 640 adults improve their literacy skills to help them get jobs, or apply for drivers’ licences, or, for the first time, read bedtime stories to their kids. In the last five years, the number of adults seeking the society’s services grew 400 per cent.
And with the cuts?
“We’re instituting a wait list for the first time,” said society executive director Barb Hagan, “and taking only the most pressing cases. We’ve also had to delay tutor training: we now have 17 people waiting to be tutor-trained.”
The monetary value of the tutors’ time and efforts? About $2 million per year. The worth of their contribution to the community? How does that Visa ad go?
“We won’t see any more funding until February, 2012,” Hagan said. “And that’s if our application is accepted.”
…. [See the original article for central section, which includes more stories from hard-hit charities] ……
“As an organization, we feel slighted by the provincial government.”
He has company.
Thousands of charities and non-profits feel slighted by the provincial government these days. Its gradual, decade-long reorganization of the gaming industry left the government with complete control of the dispensation of those gaming funds. Those charities are now complaining loudly that they have seen their share of those funds shrink to a point where they are below 1995 levels.
Yet on the government’s website, it was announced that the government has budgeted $120 million for gaming grants in 2010-2011 — $7.4 million more than last year. What it doesn’t mention? Even with that paltry increase, grants are still down $36 million from the year before.
That figure, of course, is just a number on a balance sheet. The real cuts are felt on the ground, and in a thousand small, but very human ways.
Meanwhile, our government has embarked on, among other things, a $458-million upgrade to BC Place Stadium, complete with an immense, and immensely ugly, retractable roof.
It has its priorities.