Arts, culture and sports groups for adults, along with environmental organizations, won’t receive any grant money from the B.C. government this year, under new rules and restrictions announced today.
The changes, which are expected to impact hundreds of charities and non-profits across B.C., come as the province cuts the amount of money it provides to community groups out of more than $1 billion in annual gambling, casino and bingo revenue.
Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman admitted government will spend less on charities than it did in 2008 because of tough economic times.
The amount of gambling revenue allocated to community gaming grants this year is $120 million, down $36.3 million from 2008/09.
More than 6,800 organizations receive a share of the money each year, and many have said they would be unable to operate without the government support. When government tried to clawback millions in funding in last September’s budget update, outraged groups created a political nightmare for the Liberal government in the form of a flurry of bad news stories and protests.
As part of the new cuts announced today, any charity of non-profit group that serves arts and culture programs to adults will have its funding eliminated this year, Coleman said.
Exceptions apply to youth groups, as well as groups that use the money to host fairs, festivals or museums. However, those groups will only receive $4 million, about half the amount of previous years.
Environmental groups, including wildlife rescue organizations, will also receive no funding this year. Adult sports groups and school playgrounds have also had their funding eliminated. Sports for youth, and sports for people with disabilities, retain their grant money, government said.
Some organizations will remain unaffected by the change. Public safety organizations, such as local search and rescue groups or volunteer fire departments, will get 100 per cent of the grant money from previous years, government said.
Funding also remains uncharged for charities and non-profits in the “human and social services” sector — food banks, meal programs, shelters, transition houses, public health programs and boys and girls clubs.
Parent Advisory Councils will see funding cuts from last year restored to 2008 levels. PACs now receive $20 per student (up from $10 per student last year) but lose any additional bingo affiliation grants.
The province will honour any three-year commitments it had signed with charities, but said it will only offer year-to-year deals in the future. As well, it reaffirmed a funding cap of $100,000 per group, or $250,000 per provincial organization.
The changes also signal the end of bingo affiliation money for charities, as the province rolls bingo grants into the larger community gaming grant pot. Some groups may see gaps in funding because the bingo grants had different application deadlines, but the province has offered “interim partial payment” to help affected organizations.
To offset grant cuts, Coleman pointed to $10 million for arts groups and $10 million for sports groups promised this coming year as part of a three-year, $60 million, Olympic legacy fund announced in the provincial budget last week. However, the money is not placed in community gaming grants, and will require a separate application process for charities.
NDP arts critic Spencer Herbert slammed government for cutting money from charities. He called the announcement “fun with numbers” as the province trumpets a small amount of new funding for arts and sports in its budget, but then removes a larger amount in grant cuts.
P.E.I.'s Department of Education says it's on track in its plan to move kindergarten-age children from daycare centres into the province's public school system in September.
The provincial kindergarten curriculum is currently taught mainly in private child-care centres.
The space for the new integrated kindergarten classrooms has been allocated to accommodate the more than 1,200 children who have registered for the fall, Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Doug Currie said Tuesday.
"This is the largest educational initiative in the modern history of our province, and I am pleased to advise parents and the public that we are on target," Currie said in a news release.
More than 50 new school buses have been ordered, and the province says they will have enough child safety seats to accommodate children who weigh less than 18 kilograms. Classroom furniture, equipment and teaching supplies have also been ordered.
Stewart Darrach, vice-principal of Westwood Primary School in Cornwall, said 11 new classrooms are under construction at the school.
"Personally, I think this is an excellent move and … opportunity that we're having here with a new addition on to the school and for students coming in."
Currie said the parents and caregivers in the province have many questions about the process of integrating kindergarten into the public school system. In the spring, families will be invited to school information sessions where they will be able to meet kindergarten teachers and tour classrooms.
Uncertainty for teachers
Despite the progress, there are still issues that must be worked out, particularly having to do with the hiring of kindergarten teachers, said Sonya Corrigan, executive director of the Early Childhood Development Association.
"There are still a number of uncertainties around early childhood educators' futures, as far as knowing when they will receive confirmation on employment, where that employment will be and what their educational future looks like, as well," she told CBC News on Tuesday.
The province is hiring more than 100 kindergarten teachers, with many current staff at private daycare centres and preschool programs expected to fill the positions. Certified early childhood educators are being given first consideration for the new kindergarten positions.
Teachers in P.E.I. elementary schools must have a bachelor of education degree, but while the usual prerequisite for such a degree is a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree, that requirement has been waived for child-care workers who want to work in the new integrated kindergartens.
Instead, all new kindergarten teachers hired who do not already have a bachelor of education will be required to complete a modified two-year bachelor of education program at the University of Prince Edward Island by 2016. The Department of Education said interested teachers have already been interviewed by UPEI.
Certified educators who are 50 or older and have a certain number of years of experience teaching kindergarten-age children will be exempt from the university program requirement.
The province is also waiting for a report from Kathleen Flanagan, an early childhood education consultant who is drafting a plan on how to alter the program for the children who will remain in daycares when kindergarten-age children move into the public school system.
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Parents are starting to lobby the P.E.I. government to provide money for child-care centres because rates could go up by 30 per cent next fall.
Child-care centres will lose an important revenue source when kindergarten moves into the school system this fall, and some centres say they'll have to increase their rates from 10 to 30 per cent.
Right now, the province pays the centres a subsidy for every child in kindergarten, and is considering a new subsidy for child-care centres.
That's something that Laurie Brehaut is pushing for. She recently learned the child-care bill for her two young kids could increase by $300 a month this September, bringing the monthly cost up to $1,500.
"We're trying to arrange a public forum where parents from all over the Island can come together and express their concerns to the powers that be," she said Friday.
When Brehaut's maternity leave runs out in August, her six-month-old daughter will join her three-year-old son at Campus Kids Child Care Centre in Charlottetown.
"It's stressful. We're planning on having more kids, and we've been talking about it, we'll have to wait until the ones we have are out of daycare," she said.
Brehaut said she and her husband have even thought about one of them staying home to look after the kids.
"But, it's just not feasible with student loans and whatnot," she said.
Alice Taylor, with the Early Childhood Development Association, said the cut in funding is posing a problem for child-care owners.
"The operators are in a real quandary. It's a real ethical dilemma for them. Early childhood care and education for children is about the relationship with the families, as well," she said.
Two long-time Charlottetown pre-schools are closing because staff are taking positions teaching kindergarten in the school system.
The Brighton School of Early Learning and Spring Park School of Early Learning have sent letters notifying parents of the shutdown in June. The Brighton School has operated for about 40 years. Prior to 1995, it was known as Mrs. Chang's.
In education, per-pupil
funding for students in the K-12 levels will rise from $8,200 in 2009-10 to an
estimated $8,301 for 2010-11, the highest ever. Further supporting families and
early-childhood education, the introduction of full-day kindergarten for
five-year-olds is being phased in starting this September, and as it becomes
fully operational, annual funding will rise to $129 million by 2012. In the
post-secondary sector, funding remains stable at $1.88 billion in 2010-11.
Just as we know that parents are in the best position to make decisions for their families, the best solutions to the diverse challenges confronting Canada’s communities are often found locally. Every day, the power of innovation is seen at work in communities across this country, as citizens, businesses and charitable groups join forces to tackle local problems.
Too often, however, grassroots efforts are hobbled by red tape. Too often, local solutions are denied access to government assistance because they do not fit the bureaucratic definition of the problem. Too often, the efforts of communities falter not on account of a lack of effort or heart, but because of a lack of expertise to turn good ideas into reality.
- Our Government will take steps to support communities in their efforts to tackle local challenges.
- It will look to innovative charities and forward-thinking private-sector companies to partner on new approaches to many social challenges.
- To recognize the enormous contribution volunteers make to Canada, our Government will also establish a prime ministerial award for volunteerism.
To help Canadian families to balance work and family life, our Government introduced the Universal Child Care Benefit to provide $100 per month for each child under the age of six. This is direct financial support to working families that gives them the freedom to choose the best child care for them. Our Government will strengthen this benefit for sole-support, single-parent families.
After operating for more than three decades, a Charlottetown woman has been told to get a licence for her childcare business, but she can't get one in her current location.
Rosemary Compton began running a day care out of her home on Trafalgar St. 33 years ago. It started small, but has grown. She now has two other women working with her and they care for as many as 18 children.
According to provincial legislation, Compton needs a licence to care for more than six children. She said she'd be happy to get one, but she's in an area that's not zoned for daycares.
"It's been very emotional for me, I will either have to make a huge decision in the next few days," Compton told CBC News Tuesday.
"Whether to leap, jump and buy a daycare licensed facility, that I know probably won't be able fly because of no government funding, or scale back."
Compton said she has not bothered to get a license because the parents were happy. She said the current turmoil in child care on the Island, with kindergarten moving out of daycares and into the schools, makes this a particularly bad time for her to be scaling back.
"With the kindergarten situation changing and a lot of the daycares coming up for sale, or closing because they can't make a go of them without the kindergartens, there's going to be more and more need for a situations like I have," she said.
The province only recently found out Compton's daycare was operating without a licence. Carolyn Simpson, manager the Early Childhood Programs for the province, said it's impossible to know how many other home daycares are operating illegally.
"We would never know that, unless of course, sometimes the people who are providing the childcare at home will call and say, you know, is this OK? Sometimes parents will call us," said Simpson.
Simpson said in most cases operators are not aware that they require a licence.
Compton has two weeks to decide whether to move to an area the city zoned for daycares or scale back to just 6 children.