Government core fund for Autism Society NL is an investment
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.