The future of an organization that has assisted more than 10,000 non-profit community groups in its 33-year history is in jeopardy as the provincial government axes its funding.
On Tuesday, the Manitoba Community Services Council received a letter saying its contract with the province would not be renewed and its upcoming quarterly funding payment would be its last, citing an "effort to reduce duplication and streamline funding."
That letter has left the organization, and the non-profit groups it supports, in the dark.
MCSC chairman Jay Boaz said it remains unclear if the province will continue to fund the non-profits directly — or not at all.
"We aren't clear on the intent here. Our biggest concern is for the community groups across the province that we support. We help a number of groups, big and small. I believe a number of groups would have shut their doors by now without the assistance of the MCSC," Boaz said Wednesday.
A spokesman for the province was unable to say whether the non-profit groups supported by the MCSC will continue to receive funding directly from the province, as "grant funding to community programs (is) currently going through the budgeting process."
The MCSC, established in 1984, has been funded by the provincial government and the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries' volunteer bingo program. During the 2016-17 fiscal year, the organization received $1.7 million from the province and $850,000 from MBLL.
Non-profit groups supported by the MCSC include an after-school program in The Pas, and the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities ethno-cultural program.
Boaz said he believes MCSC's funding from MBLL is still secure, but he's not sure that will be enough to keep the organization afloat. Eleven per cent of the council's funding covers administrative costs, while the rest is passed to charities.
He said the council will meet with the province Friday — about six months after it first requested a sitdown. The meeting wasn't scheduled until Wednesday afternoon, Boaz added.
"We've been trying to meet with the province for quite awhile now. We're really not sure where things stand... We're just working to find out what's going on right now," he said.
"Certainly, we're concerned. We help a lot of people across the province. I hope if we are as valued as they (the province) say we are in their statement, we'll find a way to continue to support Manitobans in all the different ways we help strengthen communities."
Last year, the Winnipeg-based MCSC supported 229 non-profit community groups in Manitoba. Should MCSC be forced to close its doors, and the province decide not to fund the council's non-profit partners directly, many other organizations could be forced to close their doors as well, Boaz said.
"I would say, right now, any non-profit group that receives significant funding from the province is probably keeping an eye on things to see where they stand. In the event this does mean that MCSC won't receive any funding, the impact on community groups across the province is not going to be insignificant," he said.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.