Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker says the Liberal government’s surprise move to withdraw the $25 million capital funding program will set back community projects and put local volunteer groups in jeopardy.
“This money helps hard-working volunteers to do good things in our communities and to essentially fill gaps that need to be covered. The cancellation of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s capital program is a big blow to service clubs and community groups across my riding that have very few options for raising capital funds elsewhere.”
MPP Walker says it’s insulting that the government pulled the plug on the program just two weeks before the deadline for intakes, meaning that any completed applications or those in process are now worthless.
“The government has dumped the Spring round of applications and disregarded the thousands of volunteer hours that it took to complete them,” he explains. “This will also have negative spin-offs on the local economy as many of these grants employ local contractors and locally sourced supplies.”
According to the Ontario Trillium Foundation newsletter, the charity organization funded through proceeds from lotteries in Ontario, is going through budget changes. A replacement program has been promised, but no further details have been provided.
Without any details, MPP Walker has doubts about the future of the capital program.
He said the $25 million set aside for the program has instead been transferred to the Ontario 150 fund to support events for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
In the past, Trillium has given funds to help purchase equipment for a new cooperative daycare in the riding, to increase accessibility at local Lions Clubs and Legion Halls, to support the delivery of children's mental health services, and has directly helped out the Billy Bishop Museum, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Palliative Care-Hospice Association, Seniors Centres and countless non-profits across the region.
“This is a sad day,” the MPP said. “As a former Grant Team volunteer on the Trillium Foundation for our region, I saw first-hand how effective this funding was. This is one of the most successful and valuable grant programs the government has administered with a definite return on investment.
“Community volunteers invested their time and effort to causes that are dependent on volunteers, tax money was invested back into the local community, jobs were created and many organizations were able to sustain access to, in many cases, community hub facilities which play a key role in our small, rural communities. It was win-win-win all around.
“There is simply no other provincial capital program out there to meet this type of need,” said Walker, adding that his party has called on the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport to immediately reinstate the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s capital grants program.
“The fact that the government can’t fund a program that represents a speckle, a mere 0.02 per cent of the province’s budget, shows how mismanaged the Liberal government is,” MPP Walker says. “It’s a sad day in Ontario when the government – mired in waste, scandal and mismanagement - is trying to balance the budget on the backs of volunteers and non-profit organizations. My colleagues and I will continue to push for the re-instatement of this very valuable program.”