WINNING LEADER-Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith addresses reporters during the opening of the party's annual general meeting at the Capri Hotel & Convention Centre last year in Red Deer.

Wildrose unveils social support policy

Pledging to provide stable funding to non-profit organizations with “proven track records of performance,” the Wildrose party released its social support policy Monday.

Danielle Smith, the party’s leader, said non-profits need more stability in order to deliver services. She also said her party would use tax incentives to strengthen the role of non-profits.

“We will reward those organizations who demonstrate consistent performance with stable and predictable funding,” she said. “This will enable them to plan for the long term and build on their own success in meeting Albertans’ needs.”

Smith also said the party would change tax incentives to better support Alberta’s 19,000 charities and non-profit organizations by hiking tax credits for charitable donations and introducing a volunteer tax credit.

“Right now, if you donated $100 to a charity you’d get $25 back, but if you donated that same $100 to a political party you’d get $75 back,” she said. “Talk about mixed up priorities. We would make charitable donations worth as much or more than political contributions, so more money ends up where it’s most needed.”

Dawna Morey, CEO of the Community Information and Volunteer Services (CiRS), said the overall system of how the province looks at the volunteer sector, and what it ultimately contributes to society, needs to change.

Bolstered tax incentives are a positive move, but they aren’t a complete solution to ongoing funding issues.

“They need to understand that we are a real fabric of the community,” said Morey, adding that the whole funding model needs to change. Wading through many levels of bureaucracy in applying for funds and grants doesn’t help either in terms of getting support in a timely manner.

That doesn’t mean the volunteer sector and how it is managed can’t be more efficient, she added. Morey pointed to CiRS as an example of keeping costs down. Several non-profit organizations are housed in the downtown Red Deer facility. They share support staff and other services and that makes a tremendous difference in the bottom line, she said.

Still, it’s tough for non-profits to get by these days particularly in the shadow of recession.

“The sector continues to really reel from the recession, and I think it will be among the last sectors to recover from that,” she said. “For us, there is so much dependence on donations with less money out there and more competition for it.”

Touching on other aspects of the Wildrose social policy announcement, Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Heather Forsyth emphasized the importance of having funding procedures that flow funding directly to individuals instead of through government bureaucracy.

“We want to ensure an easy transition for individuals with disabilities from childhood, adulthood to their senior years without disruption or losing access to programs and funding.”

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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