For community organizations looking for funding, this is how they are now greeted on the Saskatoon Health Region Community Grants webpage.
“We sincerely regret any inconvenience this has caused, however the Saskatoon Health Region is not accepting applications for the Community Grant Program at this time.”
The cuts to the Community Grants program have now left numerous community organizations without a combined $200,000 worth of funding for community programs, including some in Humboldt who are left looking elsewhere.
Saskatoon Health Region President and CEO Andrew Will released this statement through the communications department.
“Saskatoon Health Region values our partnerships with community groups. Considering our current financial position, we regretfully are not able to award funding for community grants at this time.”
Shari Hinz with Safe Communities Humboldt says that they will be looking for alternative funding opportunities for their suicide prevention program they were hoping to implement in the spring of 2016.
“That was one of the priorities that was determined for us back in our 2014 Priority Review and we have yet to secure any funding for that programming yet and we were hoping the Communities Grant would be a great fit for that.”
Now that she is actively searching for alternative forms of funding, the program might not be implemented until the fall unless she can find opportunities with shorter funding deadlines.
The Community Grant has funded both the Party program and Agriculture Safety days for Safe Communities in the past, as well as utilizing the expertise of numerous professionals in a variety of programs.
“We do work closely with the Health Region on a number of our initiatives,” says Hinz, and those relationships will not change.
Hinz says she hopes organizations, especially the Saskatoon Health Region, still see the long term benefits of injury prevention on the health care system.
Deborah Bryson-Sarauer with PARTNERS Family Services does not see a lot of other funding opportunities at this point.
PARTNERS has received grants from the Community Grant Programs in the past, including funding for an elder abuse program last year.
“Grants like this help people do their jobs much better, much more effectively.”
Grants like this also help build links with people doing the same work, says Bryson-Sarauer.
Small community based groups do not have the advantage of a central hub for funding and support like those based in Saskatoon or Regina.
The Saskatoon Health Region provided some of this support with the Community Grants and Bryson-Sarauer says that they are taking away much more than just money.
“Groups like PARTNERS, the benefits are much more invisible because I can say to myself, I don’t know anyone who is being abused. We all know people who are being abused...we all know people who are living in poverty.”
Jennifer Brooks with the City of Humboldt says Safe Communities and PARTNERS are valuable to the community.
Investing in programs like this just is good business sense, says Brooks.
“The city has provided $10,000 in the past to Safe Communities and from that they’ve been able to leverage more than $70,000 to deliver safety and public awareness programs in Humboldt and area.”
Hopefully the cancellation of the program will not impact the programs ability to deliver vital programs to the community, says Brooks.
Stacey Poss with Big Brothers, Big Sisters also sees the decrease in grants and the amount of funding that is available for community organizations. It is not just the Saskatoon Health Region that is having to cut back for economic reasons.
Poss says she appreciates this economic environment.
“We still anticipate a great year. We may need to adjust a few things but we will carry on.”