Premier Christy Clark.

Charities hope review reforms gambling grants

Funding to many non-profits was slashed in 2009

A review of how the province shares its gambling profits with community groups must restore slashed grants to former levels and curtail Victoria’s ability to interfere in the future, charity advocates say.

The Community Gaming Grant Review, announced Monday by Premier Christy Clark, is to deliver a top-to-bottom assessment of the system and determine options to “create certainty and sustainability” for affected non-profit groups and charities.

It will be headed by former Kwantlen Polytechnic University president Skip Triplett.

Many groups were outraged in 2009 when the province cut grants to community groups from $156 million to $120 million a year. That was raised to $135 million this spring after Clark took office.

Susan Marsden, president of the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming, characterized the raid two years ago as an attack on non-profits, particularly those in arts and culture.

“They decided they were going to cut out arts and culture entirely, cut environmental groups entirely, cut other groups by 50 per cent and give 100 per cent to their favourite charities,” she said.

Rich Coleman, the former minister in charge of gaming, had defended the cuts as necessary to shore up B.C.’s budget amid a deepening global recession and said the reallocations were geared to protect youth groups at the expense of organizations serving adults.

Marsden accused Coleman of putting his personal anti-arts stamp on the decision and said she hopes the review ensures nothing similar can happen again.

“We need to get government at arm’s length from this,” she said.

“In the short term, we need to get all of the charities funded again to the levels they were in 2008. In the long term, we need to look at stability, at legislation that enshrines the funding formula.”

Marsden praised Clark for delivering on her pledge of a review and said the terms of reference are acceptable – except that Triplett won’t report until the end of October.

“I don’t know if there will be any charities left to fund once they get around to putting anything into legislation, not to mention there may be an election in between.”

Many non-profit groups are “on life support” after cutting staff and switching to cheaper accommodation, she said.

More than two thirds of the $1-billion a year in revenue that comes to the province from gambling goes into general revenue, with another $147 million dedicated to health funding, $82 million shared with cities that host casinos or community gaming centres and the rest is shared with community groups.

Charities have often been enlisted to voice their support for gaming when new casinos or slot machine venues have been proposed.

The review is to collect input from charities, community members, industry reps and local government.

“This review is not just about how much money we can share,” said Ida Chong, minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

“It’s about the process we use to decide together who should have access to this funding, what we can do with it and how we are accountable for it.”

For more information, including upcoming community forums, see www.communitygaminggrantreview.gov.bc.ca.

Just Posted

Committee to oversee expansion of Teck coal mine in Sparwood

Socio-Community Economics Effects Advisory Committee formed; plus other District of Sparwood news

Accused in Fernie stabbing case remanded in custody

Livan Chris Barnett is scheduled to appear in Cranbrook Law Courts via video on December 17

Hosmer woman victim of a broken health system

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Law professor owes career to Legion scholarship

Forty years after receiving an invaluable scholarship, Nancy Banks has paid it forward

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning

Very weak layer buried under recent snow a cause for concern

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Rescued B.C. cat with misshapen legs in need of forever home – with carpet

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

Most Read