Budget will have an impact, charities say

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Tax credit reduction insignificant, but other cuts will hurt deeper

It’s not the end of the world but it’s still nothing to sing about.

That’s what the leaders of two prominent St. Albert charitable organizations have to say about the new Alberta budget.

“I thought way worse was going to happen on this budget actually. I thought I was going to lose a bunch of funding,” expressed Doreen Slessor the executive director of St. Albert Stop Abuse in Families, an organization that offers free counselling services for people dealing with domestic abuse and family violence issues.

The reduction in the charitable donation tax credit for more than $200 from 21 per cent back to its pre-2007 level of 12.75 per cent will not likely have a large negative impact on contributions, she said. On the surface, it might seem like it will deter donations but digging deeper reveals a different story.

“It looks like people aren’t going to give to charity any more but when you do the analysis of the psychology of giving to charities, the tax receipt isn’t the biggest reason.”

She referred to statistics published on SectorSource.ca that breaks down the reasons Canadians give money to charity. The tax credit was the lowest item on the list compared to basic human compassion, personal beliefs or simply having an interest in the organization’s services or programs. Many people give just for the sake of wanting to give back to one’s community.

When she gives to charity, the tax benefit plays a very small role in her decision-making. Some of SAIF’s major donors, she continued, aren’t worried about tax receipts.

“It’s about making a difference in their community and giving back.”

Her biggest concern was in regards to funding cuts to health care and social services because SAIF is an agency that provides free counselling.

“When the government cuts mental health programming and programming for mental health of children, guess which charity in the community takes up the slack?”

Marie Renaud, the executive director of Lo-Se-Ca, also had major concerns about those cuts. She said that she was “stunned” by the cuts, especially the nearly $60 million that was cut from Child Protective Services.

“I think ‘why attack non-profits?’ When contributions to political parties are so lucrative for people, why on Earth would you reduce this? It really doesn’t make sense to me. I think children in care are the most vulnerable. To cut any part of those services or protections is just mind-boggling to me. They’re thinking of spending $28 million on an early election.”

As far as her organization is concerned, however, the real fallout of this budget won’t be known until months from now.

“It’s not a coincidence that there are certain times of the year that we get larger donations. We’re probably not going to see what’s going to happen until we get closer to year-end. That’s when people are thinking about their taxes.”

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.