News / Winnipeg

Non-profits issue layoff notices ahead of Manitoba budget, anticipating funding cuts

At least three organizations have issued staff layoff notices, according to the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.

The next provincial budget will be released at the Manitoba Legislative Building on April 11.

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The next provincial budget will be released at the Manitoba Legislative Building on April 11.

With rumblings of provincial budget cutbacks, some local non-profits are worried about whether they will have to lay off staff or cut programming come April if they receive less funding than usual.

Kate Kehler, executive director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, said she’s heard of three organizations already issuing staff layoff notices in anticipation of cuts in the Tory budget due April 11.

Kehler said few non-profits are comfortable speaking on the record about the issue, for fear they may jeopardize their provincial funding agreements, a sentiment echoed by a University of Winnipeg professor.

"I think people are starting to realize they’re likely to lose their funding or a good portion of it. But I think still some of them are holding out hope," said Shauna MacKinnon, an associate professor in the urban and inner city studies department.

"It’s hard to know who’s going to be affected (and) how," she said. "(The province) is going to get rid of something. We just don’t know what."

The province undertook a value-for-money audit last year to find departmental savings.

Kehler said she’s asked the government to make the audit results public to clarify which non-profits may get less cash.

"From my perspective, I had hoped to see the results of that audit prior to the budget so that we all are working with the same information," Kehler said.

A provincial spokesperson said in an emailed statement Monday the municipal relations department doesn't have a date set yet for when the partial audit results will be released.

"The Department is aware of some non-governmental organizations seeking budget certainty as the fiscal year closes and is considering available options," the spokesperson told Metro.

One director for an art non-profit said he’s rearranged his next budget to omit funding normally received by a provincial Neighbourhoods Alive! grant, in case it doesn’t surface.

"We will find a way to continue with or without the invaluable funding from Neighbourhoods Alive!," the director said, speaking under condition of anonymity. "But a lot of resources go into finding new money, and it's nearly impossible to find new funding for a project that is already running successfully, when project funders want to support new ideas only." 

Dawn Sands, executive director for the North End Community Renewal Corporation, said her organization receives about 10 per cent (or $353,000) of its funding from Neighbourhoods Alive!, which is designated for core operations.

On Friday, she wasn’t yet sure whether their funding would stay the same or fluctuate for 2017, but didn’t want to discuss the situation at length before the budget release.

"I am willing to go on record just basically to say that it’s never a comfortable feeling when your funding has become uncertain, especially core funding," Sands said. "But we’re quite confident in the work that we do and hope that this new government really sees the value of NECRC and the impact that we have on the community."

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