The BC Persons with AIDS Society (BCPWA) is feeling the financial pinch after Public Safety Minister and Solicitor-General Rich Coleman announced March 7 that the province has slashed gaming grants to certain non-profit societies.
BCPWA spokesperson Adam Reibin says the organization applied for $210,000 and received $160,000 for the fiscal year – $50,000 less than anticipated.
“It was a surprise to us because we’ve received 100 percent of what we’ve asked for since 2008,” Reibin says.
“We will try to make an appeal as soon as possible,” he adds. “We can’t go forward with $50,000 less in our budget.”
Reibin says the cut will directly affect the organization’s bimonthly magazine, Living Positive, noting it will likely mean changes to its publication schedule but not halt the publication altogether.
“Communication plays a big part in health and the publication is a part of that,” NDP critic Shane Simpson says in support of the magazine.
Meanwhile the Dr Peter AIDS Foundation says it received $95,000 of the $100,000 requested in provincial gaming grants.
“We’re certainly very grateful for the support; it would have been very difficult for us if we didn’t receive it,” says executive director Maxine Davis.
Other community groups, including AIDS Vancouver and the Positive Women’s Network, say they have also received the gaming grants they requested.
AIDS Vancouver executive director Brian Chittock says the organization received the whole $100,000 they applied for. He says the funds are allocated for the organization’s food-bank program.
Chittock is aware of BCPWA’s grant cut.
“It’s unfortunate but it does happen quite regularly,” he says. “I know there have been struggles with BC gaming.”
Chittock says there’s always a lingering concern about the future of funding. He says that AIDS Vancouver was on a three-year cycle of guaranteed gaming-grant funding since 2007, but as of last year the application process changed and now the group must apply annually.
“We are one of the lucky ones,” adds Marcie Summers, executive director of the Positive Women’s Network, which not only received its requested funding but got an additional $2,000. The group asked for $33,000 and were allocated $35,000.
But many are puzzled about the 25 percent decrease in funds for the BCPWA, one of Vancouver’s paramount AIDS and HIV community support groups.
“I don’t understand the inconsistency,” Summers says.
“It takes a number of services to support our community and people living with AIDS,” adds Davis. “I feel badly that this has happened to them.”
But the ministry says the BCPWA received 100 percent of their annual funds, with $60,100 allocated for health and outreach programs and $49,900 for prison outreach.
Coleman declined an interview with Xtra but a ministry spokesperson says BCPWA got $50,000 for the production of their magazine. The group had asked for $100,000.
Asked why the cut was made, the spokesperson says the publication is not a “direct service” and the province is doing its part to curb spending.
“Like many governments around the world, the province had to examine its spending priorities carefully as part of its response to global economic issues,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Sometimes you have to make tough decisions to move money around in order to meet the needs of those people that need it the most.”
Simpson says he understands there are budget constraints but maintains the process should have been executed differently with small cuts coming off the top of a few non-profits rather than one large cut to a crucial group.
“You don’t ask only one [organization] to bear the brunt,” he contends.