Budget 2015: Highlights for Nonprofits

Photo-Budget2015The Alberta budget was announced on March 26, 2015. The response at Volunteer Alberta was both relief and concern for the impact of the budget on the voluntary sector. With the lead up to the budget and the speculation of massive cuts due to the economic downturn, we were bracing for deeper program cuts. While we were relieved that many voluntary sector programs and services were maintained, we are concerned about the 5% cuts to grant funding mechanisms (Boards, Foundations and Commissions) for nonprofits and potential impact of the diminished charitable tax credit. The new economic situation in Alberta will have some lasting effects on the nonprofit sector.

The budget was, as Jim Prentice said, “fiscally responsible” balancing increased revenue and reduced spending. However, it was refreshing to hear that the government is committed to supporting families and communities, and protecting lower income and vulnerable Albertans.

Here is what we know:

Alberta anticipated a $7 billion shortfall in revenues for 2015. The Government of Alberta needed to look for ways to increase revenue streams while slowing down government spending. Minister Campbell delivered a budget for Alberta that included “responsible spending” and an increase in revenues streams by $1.5 billion.

We prepared a highlight of relevant budget items that may be important to Volunteer Alberta members and across the nonprofit sector.

Human Services

  • Front-line programs will be maintained
  • Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) funding has been maintained at $76M
  • Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) have a slight increase to their budgets to accommodate anticipated growth

Culture and Tourism

  • Maintained funding for Community Facility Enhancement Programs (CFEP)
  • Alberta Foundation for the Arts budget is decreased by $1.4M
  • Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation budget is decreased by $2M
  • Community and Voluntary Support Services (which includes program support, community engagement and the Community Initiatives Program) decreased by $1.54M
    • This reduction includes $1.2M from Community Initiatives Program (CIP)

A few other points of interest for the nonprofit sector include:

Even though Vitalize funding was reduced by $90,000 this year, this valuable nonprofit sector conference is still in-place. We are thankful for this opportunity for the members of the sector to connect and learn together once again.

After talking to our partners in the Government of Alberta, we confirmed that the Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP) funding was maintained and more than 800 internships will benefit the sector throughout the rest of this year and into 2016.

Communities will be affected by the Municipal Sustainability Initiative decrease, however, nearly $880M will still be invested in municipal infrastructure projects in 2015-16.

Changes to the charitable tax credit: the tax credit will be lowered from 21% to 12.75% (rates equal to 2007) for donations above $200. The reduction in the tax credit will save the province $90M per year We  do not yet have a clear understanding of the impact of this change on charitable contributions, but will continue to explore this and engage partners in dialogue and/or research

According to the 2013 General Social Survey from Stats Canada, Albertans have the highest amount donated every year across Canada with an average of $861/person.

We are still breaking down the numbers and understanding what this budget will mean for the nonprofit sector. It may take time and further conversations with our sector partners as well as those in government to fully understand the longer term impact on the nonprofit sector.

For more information about the budget please see CCVO news release and the Government of Alberta 2015 Budget website. Volunteer Alberta is committed to supporting your voice to government when budget and policy affect your ability to do your work, at the grassroots level, supporting civic engagement and social wellbeing.

Let us know your thoughts on the budget. We want to hear about your issues and concerns as well as any areas of relief you may wish to share.

Jennifer Esler
Volunteer Alberta