Provincial Budget: Stability For the Nonprofit Sector In a Time of Uncertainty
Today’s provincial budget reflects priorities outlined in the NDP election platform and demonstrates the government’s commitment to preserving public programs and services.
Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) President and CEO Katherine van Kooy notes that “the priorities laid out in this budget reflect an understanding of the importance of maintaining community services during times of economic hardship and strengthening programs for Alberta’s most vulnerable.”
Budget highlights for the nonprofit sector in 2015-16 include:
- Family and Community Support Services – $25 million increase (previously announced) to enhance community-based services
- Women’s shelters – $15 million in annual funding to address family violence (previously announced)
- Job Creation Incentive Program – Up to $5,000 grant for each new full-time job created, beginning January 1, 2016. Charities and nonprofits are eligible to participate in this first-come, first-served program.
As part of its commitment to stabilize public services, the government has made funding commitments that will begin in the 2016-17 fiscal year and beyond. This includes:
- Re-introduction of the Summer Temporary Employment Program – $10 million per year beginning in 2016
- Community Facility Enhancement Program – increase of $50 million over the next five years
- Alberta Foundation for the Arts – $5 million in 2016-17 and $10 million in 2017-18
- Long-term care spaces – $120 million over two years
Today’s budget includes $49.9 billion in expenses and forecasts an operational deficit of $6.1 billion. The realities of continued low oil prices and a commitment to a balanced budget by 2019-20 mean that tough choices may be reflected in future budgets. For example, the budget identifies expected cost savings to the tune of $550 million in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 budgets from, as yet to be determined, “lower priority” Government of Alberta programs.
In this budget the government has reinvested in some key programs and services and provided continuity and stability of funding over the next few years, while addressing the need for job creation and economic growth.
CCVO will release its in-depth budget analysis in November.