Budget 2018: Signs of thinking differently, but still committed to status-quo

The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) was pleased to see Budget 2018 highlight the value of Alberta’s nonprofit sector. The provincial budget, released on March 22, includes the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s key strategies that place a priority on assisting nonprofits in building their human and financial capacity.

Additionally, the need for and value of collaboration with partners outside of Government were highlighted in the 2018-19 provincial budget. “This as an important signal and step towards supporting healthy communities, as many organizations within the nonprofit sector are well-positioned to work with Government on shared goals,” says David Mitchell, President and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations. “CCVO is encouraged to see collaboration and partnership highlighted as a priority.”

This budget also broadly considers the impact of spending to better support gender equality and Indigenous peoples. Taking this whole-of-government approach is a progressive step, and one of the first for a Canadian government. In CCVO’s pre-budget submission, which was informed by nonprofit sector input, we asked the Government to think and spend differently; Budget 2018 focus in these areas demonstrates the beginning of integrative thinking about public spending.

There continues, however, to be more opportunity for future budgets to move beyond the status quo and think differently about public finances to more sustainably serve Alberta’s communities.

Potential support for organizations affected by changes to labour legislation

Over the past several months, CCVO listened to concerns from nonprofits about the impact of the updated Employment Standards Code on their operations, including increased costs of overtime, general holiday pay,  and the capacity required to update human resources policies and practices. The 2018-19 budget references “additional funding to support updated labour laws”. Although details on eligibility and the specific amounts of funding need to be clarified, this consideration in Budget 2018 is encouraging.

Other budget lines quantified significant increases: funding support for Persons with Developmental Disabilities grew by 11% over last year’s budget, and funding for mental health and addiction increased by 10%.

More substantial capital funds for nonprofits was noticeably absent

New capital spending in Budget 2018 was minimal, as signaled by Finance Minister Ceci in the weeks leading up to budget day. CCVO is disappointed to see no increases to the Community Facility Enhancement Program. As we heard in CCVO’s pre-budget consultation with Minister Ceci, nonprofits continue to face significant costs for much needed improvements to their facilities.

Funding of key programs for the nonprofit sector, including the Community Grants Programs and Family and Community Support Services, remained flat over last year. CCVO respects the government’s decision to maintain funding levels for these important programs during challenging economic times.

CCVO will release an in-depth budget analysis for the nonprofit sector in the coming weeks.

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