Gov­ern­ment core fund for Autism So­ci­ety NL is an in­vest­ment

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Editorial - Scott Crocker is chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer with Autism So­ci­ety NL

Dur­ing this Autism Aware­ness Month, fund­ing chal­lenges are threat­en­ing sus­tain­abil­ity of sup­ports and ser­vices provided by Autism So­ci­ety, New­found­land & Labrador (ASNL).

Core fund­ing from gov­ern­ment has not in­creased in eight years; fundrais­ing rev­enues have de­clined by half in three years. Re­peated re­quests for a reg­u­lar, in­creased core fund have been de­nied.

Ap­prox­i­mately 50 per cent of ASNL’s an­nual op­er­at­ing bud­get is provided by Chil­dren, Se­niors and So­cial De­vel­op­ment (CSSD), in con­sul­ta­tion with Health & Com­mu­nity Ser­vices (H&CS). The re­main­ing 50 per cent is raised by staff and vol­un­teers through mul­ti­ple fundrais­ing events dur­ing the year and/or is re­ceived from suc­cess­ful com­pet­i­tive ap­pli­ca­tions for ad­di­tional foun­da­tion and/or fed­eral/pro­vin­cial grants.

In Fis­cal 2011, eight years ago, gov­ern­ment’s core fund was $580,000. It was re­duced to $507,500 in 2014 and has re­mained at that level for six years. Fixed costs have in­creased, but the core fund de­creased. Staff grew in re­sponse to many de­mands for more sup­ports and ser­vices from those af­fected by Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der (ASD), and the ab­sence of sup­ports from oth­ers.

ASNL se­nior man­age­ment’s cen­tral be­lief is that the an­nual core fund­ing given to ASNL is an “in­vest­ment” that gen­er­ates ex­cel­lent value. At min­i­mum, ASNL is cost­neu­tral. We save money for gov­ern­ment. We have a pos­i­tive eco­nomic im­pact on the prov­ince.

In 2015, when ASNL had 25 em­ploy­ees, Dr. Wade Locke did a study ti­tled “ASNL’s Eco­nomic Im­pacts on NL”. Ar­ranged by the Com­mu­nity Sec­tor Coun­cil, it was based on re­search con­ducted in part­ner­ship with Col­lab­o­ra­tive Ap­plied Re­search in Eco­nomics (CARE) at Memo­rial Univer­sity of NL.” Here is just a sam­pling of its key find­ings:

1. Per­son Years of Em­ploy­ment: 25 + 5 + 7 = 37 (Di­rect + In­di­rect + In­duced=To­tal Im­pact)

2. Con­tri­bu­tion to Pro­vin­cial GDP:

$1,076,150 + 331,846 + 706,277 = $2,114,273

3. Con­tri­bu­tions to NL’s Busi­ness Ac­tiv­ity:

$1,551,664 + 711,943 + 2,328,819 = $4,592,426

4. Im­pact on Wages & Salaries in NL:

$1,044,622 + 196,556 + 241,087 = $1,482,265

5. To­tal Taxes re­turned be­cause of ASNL’s eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity: Mu­nic­i­pal = $29,328 Pro­vin­cial = $248,743 Fed­eral = $236,288 TO­TAL: $514,359

NOTE: The In­put-Out­put Model (IOM) used in this study has been used in more than 400 stud­ies from coast to coast to assess eco­nomic im­pacts of var­i­ous sec­tors, in­clud­ing uni­ver­si­ties, air­ports, the min­ing in­dus­try and ser­vice sec­tors.

In F2011, the grant from CSSD was $580,000. The fol­low­ing year it was re­duced by 12.5 per cent to $507,500. It has re­mained at that level; there has been no in­crease in eight years. At the same time, pro­grams, sup­ports and ser­vices grew con­sid­er­ably. When an­nual plan­ning and bud­get­ing for F2017, ASNL took $100,000 from its in­ter­nal funds and used it, fully aware of the fundrais­ing chal­lenges that were com­ing. Even with that ad­di­tional fund­ing. ASNL’s deficit in F2017 was $49,000. In F2018, with even greater fundrais­ing chal­lenges, ASNL re­quested and re­ceived emer­gency bridge fund­ing from gov­ern­ment. But again, even with the ad­di­tional fund­ing, ASNL’s deficit was still $30,000.

ASNL needs a $300,000 in­crease in its an­nual core fund just to main­tain sup­ports and ser­vices — and not have a deficit. A small in­vest­ment for such a very large re­turn for this prov­ince.

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