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Loss of funding stalls advocacy group's work

The Brandon Sun - 12/19/2018

A lack of funding for the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities will put a halt on any work they can do in the Brandon area, a local board member said on Sunday.

Whitney Hodgins, a board member from Brandon, said she was originally brought on board to share her viewpoint of what it was like living with a disability in Brandon so they could see what more they could do for the Westman area. Now, that likely won't be happening, Hodgins said.

"It kind of stops that progress at a dead stall," Hodgins said. "I know for people in Westman and people probably in other rural parts of Manitoba, this could really hurt them."

Their application for $50,000 in core funding from the provincial government for the 2018-19 fiscal year was not approved. They were told that their application was in past deadline. They first submitted it in April, said David Kron, past chair of the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities and current board member.

"(After that) they asked us to resubmit, and our resubmission was taken in June, and that was the one that was turned down," Kron said.

Before it was rejected, they had received some amount of provincial funding almost every year.

"I've been with the league six years and we've had funding as far back as I can remember," he said.

The hope is that their application for the 2019-20 fiscal year will be approved. If it isn't, it will be a loss of a voice for people with disabilities across Manitoba, he said.

The Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities is run by a board of people -- mostly all with disabilities -- who act as a voice at the table when it comes to government legislation. They were a huge voice at the table for The Accessibility for Manitobans Act, and also lobbied and were successful to get Handi-Transit service to people in different communities, Hodgins said.

"Those little things that people kind of today take for granted, at one point wasn't there," she said. "There's a lot of good things that we're doing."

According to its website, Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities "is dedicated to making a fully accessible province where all people, no matter ability, are provided the same rights and freedoms."

The funding would have been beneficial because it shows other potential donors that they're legit, Hodgins said.

"A lot of outside funders also look for that funding because it reassures them that we are government funded, we are the real deal kind of thing," she said. So, losing that funding also has implications for external funding."

Before the news came to them, they were already struggling financially, Hodgins said, and now they won't be getting that core funding until at least next year.

"Hopefully we will be funded for the next year, but if not we have no idea what would come after that," she said.

However, Hodgins said that she wasn't surprised by the decision.

"It was only a matter of time before they started attacking vulnerable organizations that help vulnerable people," she said. "It's just really disappointing, because people who are vulnerable and people who are marginalized really depend on these organizations, and I really wish they saw that value in that."

They're going to be fine financially until early next year, Kron said, but after February it's uncertain.

"(After that) choices will have to be made and decisions will have to be made on how we want to continue," he said.

» mverge@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @Melverge5


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