By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Some community and non-profit groups in Manitoba are about to face new requirements to get government grants and could end up with less money.
The Progressive Conservative government is merging seven different programs, each with its own rules and funding formulas, into one. Some of them offered up to 100 per cent of the costs for things such as sports and recreational equipment or capital projects.
The new Building Sustainable Communities Program will require applicants to raise 50 per cent of a project’s cost on their own. The government will provide matching funds up to half the cost.
If a group falls short of its fundraising target, the government’s funding portion will be reduced. Grants will also be capped at $75,000.
Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton said the 50 per cent requirement is new for some programs, but, overall, groups will benefit from the simplified, one-stop application to get money.
“In the past, (some groups) just gave up. They said, ‘Look, we couldn’t get into the website. We didn’t know which one to go to,'” Wharton said Thursday.
Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the changes will hurt some community groups and low-income areas could face a harder time raising the money they need.
“Perhaps an inner-city organization may have a tougher time raising money compared to organizations in more affluent areas,” Kinew said.
Premier Brian Pallister hinted at the change a year ago. He said it would stretch government funding further and be more efficient for applicants. At the time, he announced an extra $5 million for an Inuit Art Centre in Winnipeg, but it was conditional on organizers raising $10 million in donations.
Wharton said overall funding for grant programs remains unchanged at $7.9 million a year.
The government will try to help any community group hard-pressed to meet the new requirements, Wharton said. He did not provide details.
“We’re going to support them. We’re going to make sure the money gets to the front lines where it should be.”