photo of Brad OdsenThe Charitable Dilemma – Part 6

[In this, the sixth and final of a series of commentaries, Brad Odsen, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Alberta concludes his examination of issues impacting charitable organizations across Canada, with particular relevance to those in the human services business, including the John Howard Societies in Alberta.]

I had hoped to conclude this series on an optimistic note by indicating that there has been some change in the funding policies that I have been talking about over the course of the last 3 years.

And yes, there have been some very recent initiatives undertaken by the governments of Canada and Alberta that have the avowed purpose of addressing the crises in the charitable sector and strengthening our volunteer organizations.

The Government of Canada struck a "Blue Ribbon Panel" in the Spring of 2006, charged with seeking input from the charitable sector from across Canada on issues that government could address to strengthen the sector. We responded to the Panel's call for input by providing it with a copy of the first 5 commentaries of "The Charitable Dilemma".

The Report from this Panel is scheduled to be delivered to Parliament in the very near future and we can only hope that our government follows the advice that we believe the Panel will be providing – certainly there is nothing being said by us that isn't being said by charitable organizations from sea to sea to sea. But that same government's recent actions in "cutting" $1B in funding for programs operated by, or directly impacting, charitable organizations, leaves us less than optimistic. Particularly in light of a further "commitment" by this government to "cut" a further $1B in funding.

The Alberta Government has also taken an initiative, called the Alberta Nonprofit/Voluntary Sector Initiative, which is looking not only at the (primary) issues of sustainability and capacity of community organizations in Alberta, but also ways in which the Alberta Government can work more effectively in partnership with community organizations. This, it seems to me, has the potential to have a significant impact on the way in which the government of Alberta does business with community organizations, and we are looking forward to our opportunity to become involved in the work being undertaken by this initiative. One thing that we find particularly insightful about this initiative is that it is a crossministerial initiative, with significant support from Ministers and Deputy Ministers of all of the Ministries that do interact on a regular basis with the voluntary sector.

Hopefully, in the Spring 2007 Issue of The Reporter, I will be able to provide you an update on these two government initiatives that will indicate that the changes the charitable needs to see happen have begun to happen.


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ISSN 1192-4381