Deep funding cuts for four non-profits

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Some non-profit organizations in St. Albert are feeling the financial squeeze after their funding was slashed.

At Monday’s council meeting, city councillors approved the city’s 2019 grant funding for non-profits. Thanks to a new funding formula (which councillors signed off on in March but which is only now being applied), four of the non-profits who normally receive funding saw their grants cut by between 39 and 45 per cent.

Two organizations received increases to their grants, and two received minor decreases. The remaining two had not received funding in previous years.

Among the organizations seeing a cut, the St. Albert Bereavement Fellowship is receiving $5,472 in 2019, down from the $9,000 it received in 2018.

Faye Tkachuk, co-chair of the fellowship, said she is not happy about the cut.

“We are looking for other funds because that is definitely going to effect us,” Tkachuk said.

Tkachuk said the 39.2-per-cent cut to their grant from the city will result in a “fairly substantial shortfall.”

She said the fellowship cannot ask the people who use their services for money or to fundraise, because of the mental and emotional state they are in.

“It is pretty hard when you come to fundraise. Those people are not in the position to do a lot of fundraising for us. I mean, they’re grieving,” she said.

She added the group may have to cut back on the resources they provide to mourners, like pamphlets and brochures, because of the printing and supply cost.

The Bereavement Fellowship is a non-denominational, non-profit volunteer society that provides support for those have lost a loved one. Tkachuk said they see between 100 and 130 people a month.

“The amount of people that are coming through for this is growing leaps and bounds,” she said.

Tkachuk said the group slipped through the cracks this year when it came to the city’s grant funding changes. In March, the qualifications changed for how much city funding non-profits were eligible for, and that meant the group couldn’t apply for as much funding as it had in the past.

“And in turn, it hurt us,” Tkachuk said.

The March changes meant the city established a fixed pot of funds each year of $9 per capita, meaning there was a total pot of $594,700 set aside for funding this year.

Anna Royer, business manager at the city of St. Albert, said if all groups were to get the funding they asked for they would need to take $9.75 per capita from residents in the city rather than the current $9.

The changes were made to make the grant funding process more transparent, but at the time the city did not consult with the organizations who apply for funding to determine what impact it would have on their operations. The changes set limits on what per cent of operating and staffing costs organizations can apply for.

On Monday, Coun. Sheena Hughes raised concerns about how some organizations will operate with the funding shortfall.

“This is our first time implementing this changeover, so I am just not sure of what the consequences are going to be from that,” Hughes said

She said she would like to see an update on the policy changes next year rather than wait for 2020, when the grant policy will come back for review.

“Two years from now, it could be dire consequences if the organization is struggling,” Hughes said.

Royer said they will talk to the organizations in 2019 to see how they are managing. She said the city spoke with the groups about exploring fundraising strategies to make up for the grant shortfall.

Coun. Ken MacKay also expressed concerns with the impact of funding cuts.

“I am concerned that we are having an impact on some core service needs and we will maybe need to revisit some of the formulas or look at some other new sources of help and support for these agencies,” MacKay said.

Coun. Jacquie Hansen, who sits on the community services advisory committee that recommends the funding amounts for each organization, said at the end of the day the city had more applications than they had money.

“We did have to make some tough decisions,” Hansen said.

Organization                                         2019                        2018

 

Bereavement Fellowship                    $5,472                     $9,000

Housing Society                                  $53,375                  $92,090

Seniors Association                         $239,617                $244,436

Victim Services                                   $66,402                   $52,500

Community Village/Food Bank        $73,763                  $70,000

Stop Abuse In Families                      $46,592

Michif Cultural Connections               $9,560                  $10,000

CIVC                                                       $29,491                 $52,043

Family Resource Centre                     $43,050

Visual Arts Studio Association           $27,378                $50,000

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.