A recent government baseline shift is no substitute for actual funding increases for communities hit hard by cuts to non-profit organizations in British Columbia.
When Premier Christy Clark first came to office in March 2011 there was a great deal of excitement that she might introduce a new type of politics to British Columbia that was less confrontational. She made a great start by providing an increase of $15 million to gaming grants for non-profit organizations throughout the province. This helped these organizations deal with a massive cut to grants that had occurred under the previous government run by Premier Gordon Campbell. Under the previous government grant allocations from gaming had dropped dramatically from $156 million to $120 million. Premier Clark and her government realized that this had a devastating impact on communities and dealt with the situation by increasing grant allocations by $15 million. Following a gaming grant review process led by Skip Triplett in August and September 2011 there was great hope that a solid planning process could be started.
An announcement made the Premier on January 11th brought great excitement. Many media organizations in British Columbia and across Canada ran stories stating that the government had increased funding by $15 million. Within 24 hours, Pete McMartin from the Vancouver Sun wrote an excellent analysis of the announcement which highlighted the fact that government had not made any actual increase that day. McMartin noted:
Words are a wonderful thing, and so is math, but to me, raising grant levels to $135 million from last year's $135 million does not constitute an "increase."
There was a great deal of excitement generated by last week’s announcement especially for adult arts, cultural, sports, conservation and environmental organizations. However, to offset the increased number of eligible organizations now served by gaming grants there should have been some provision made by the government. It would have helped communities for the BC government to have actually increased total gaming grants upward by $8 million to accommodate these additional costs. This would have resulted in a baseline of $143 million this year with potential increases going forward in upcoming years. This is the missing piece in the puzzle that would greatly benefit families and communities throughout the province.