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Cuts in Canada – Fund withdrawal

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Cuts by federal and provincial governments in Canada for social services are forcing religious groups hooked on state support to fend for themselves, The New York Times reported July 24.

The government still makes some loans and grants, but religious groups not used to raising money to pay for services they deliver have been on their own without fundraising resources or know-how, the Times said.

“There is a perception by some Canadians that maybe this is a government responsibility,” Evelyn Robertson, president of a new housing corporation at Newtonbrook United Church in Toronto, told the Times. “But we as Canadians can’t just turn our backs and say, ‘Let someone else take care of it.”

Of 323 major service agencies in the province of Ontario, for example, 14 have religious affiliations. They receive $92 million in government support, or 8 percent of the province’s $1.1 billion annual social service budget.

In the face of government cuts, however, religious groups that for decades have depended on government support are not prepared to raised a lot of money beyond the collection plate, the Times said.

And many Canadians believe caring for needy people is the job of government, it said.

Unlike the U.S., where President Bush’s plan to boost funding for religious groups that deliver social services has triggered a fierce fight over the separation of church and state, the Canadian government has funded religious groups for most of the last century.

“If there’s a service to be provided and a religious group can deliver the service, we’ll sign a contract with them regardless of their connection,” Mike van Soelen, a spokesman for the Ontario community and social services minister, John Baird, told the Times.

For full story, go to The New York Times.

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