Brendon Gibson

Funding setback threatens Friendship Centre

The Port Alberni Friendship Centre could face staff layoffs and cuts to critical services

The Port Alberni Friendship Centre could face staff layoffs and cuts to critical services over funding setbacks from the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada(INAC).

There are two issues surrounding funding for Friendship Centres across the province: ongoing uncertainty over Community Capacity Support (CCS) program funding, and the fact that the core-funding pot of money—which used to fund Friendship Centres exclusively—will now be shared with multiple other organizations.

“The previous Conservative government amalgamated a number of pooled money for urban services and they put it under the Urban Aboriginal Strategy as one envelope and they created two streams of money,” said Carl Mashon, acting executive director of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

The two streams of money are the CCS that provides operational funding to urban Aboriginal community organizations to help them deliver programs and services, and the Urban Partnership (UP) money which is project-specific money.

Mashon said there’s about $43 million for those two streams of money usually distributed among all Friendship Centres in the country.

However, INAC  implemented new criteria and guidelines this year that opens up $23 million core-funding to other aboriginal organizations as well as friendship centres.

The friendship centre association says INAC is breaching the agreed terms and conditions and that the proposed changes will have negative impacts on their agencies’ capacity to deliver services.

“Last week we got a demand note from the department saying you now have to comply with new criteria and guidelines,” Mashon said.

The core-funding has been opened up to other aboriginal organizations, specifically political organizations, Mashon added.

“We’re a service delivery network. We’re not political and we’re there to provide community and family services…That’s a concern because they have not expanded the pool of money,” Mashon said.

The sudden change should not affect every Friendship Centre, Mashon said, because the larger facilities run on a larger budget. Therefore the funding they receive from CSS, although still important, may not be as critical to them than some of the smaller centres who rely significantly on the funding to keep running.

“Port Alberni is kind of a medium-size centre and they’re well managed but I know it’s a concern for them too,” Mashon said. “I think Port Alberni is in a better position than others but they will be concerned if this delay is several more months.”

Port Alberni Friendship Centre executive director Cyndi Stevens agrees.

“This will absolutely affect the way we do business,” she said.

“It will mean laying off staff, it will mean reduced ability to do things, to respond to proposals…it’s absolutely going to increase our workload.”

Stevens said core-funding dollars were already reduced by $30,000 about 20 years ago and now the further reductions will create even more difficulty in keeping services running and staff employed.

“They haven’t even put out the call for funding, I believe that’s going to affect a lot of centres.

“We’re going to be affected by some degree. I have no idea what the timeline is going to be and that doesn’t help us,” Stevens said.

Typically a call for proposals for funding is released in November each year and successful applicants are disclosed in mid- to late February. That has not happened in 2016.

“There should be an increase to core-funding, not a reduction,” Stevens said.

“We’re not saying other areas don’t deserve that funding as well, we believe they do, but they should be allocating new dollars to those, not taking away from organizations that are already suffering.”

Stevens said the last amount of funding they received from CSS was $170,000 and with the new changes the amount would decrease to $120,000.

“This is our 50th year and we’ve done very, very well but why do we have to continuously struggle and continually fight to keep providing services to a population that’s in need,” Stevens said.

 

karly.blats@albernivalleynews.com

facebook.com/albernivalleynews

twitter.com/alberninews

 

Just Posted

Merry Makers create new craft fair for Port Alberni

Hansen Hall fair begins as Work of Heart organizers retire

Port Alberni highland dancers invited to North American competition

Kali Nahorney received honourable mention medals in two categories

Government looks for public input on Cathedral Grove safety concerns

Port Alberni, Parksville info sessions invite public to help ‘shape future access’

ARTS AROUND: Enjoy magic and comedy at the Capitol Theatre

Transport yourself back in time for the McLean Mill Christmas Market

Port Alberni to receive $8.7 million in affordable housing

Two projects in the Alberni Valley will provide 87 units of housing

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Cowichan school district defends lack of notice to parents following elementary student arrest

Officials with School District 79 stand by their decision not to send out an alert.

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Island Corridor Foundation optimistic about restoring rail service

If green-lighted, first priority would be Langford to Victoria route

Most Read