The “appalling” Girard budget for community organizations

The Girard budget “appalling” for community organizations

The director of the RIOCM, Marie-Andrée Painchaud-Mathieu.

Community organizations are appalled by the 2022-2023 budget tabled Tuesday by Finance Minister Eric Girard. The latter, however, prides itself on offering “unprecedented” investments to organizations that play a “major” role in communities, particularly during a pandemic.

“We no longer know it is what the step after anger. I'm not sure that to say that we are outraged is enough,” says the coordinator of the Intersectorial Regrouping of Community Organizations of Montreal (RIOCM), Marie-Andrée Painchaud-Mathieu.

The Regroupement, which has just over 350 health and social services organizations in the city, estimates its needs at $100 million. However, the planned investment for the Support Program for Community Organizations (PSOC) is $37.1 million for this year, across the province.

“We can think that in Montreal, we will get $6.5 million. It's extremely little, it's 6.5% of our needs,” says Ms. Painchaud-Mathieu.

The budget also includes sectoral investments that will be deployed over several years, but which, at this moment, “are too imprecise to be evaluated”, according to the RIOCM.

“We are on the ground”

The youth centers are among the organizations that are funded through the PSOC.

“It's dramatic”, drops the director general of the Regroupement des centers des jeunes du Québec, Nicholas Legault, about the budget.

The Regroupement estimates that $68 million would be needed to ensure the basic operation of the 217 houses across the province.

At the dawn of the budget, the youth centers had also cried for help, arguing that nearly half of them had to reduce their services or even close their doors due to lack of staff. With the current funding, the youth centers are unable to offer competitive working conditions to the workers and to curb the exodus towards the public network, underlines Mr. Legault.

We're down. Where is the prevention? How is it that we don't give more to our teenagers who will experience the repercussions of the pandemic? If we continue like this, there will be closures and it will be too late.

Nicholas Legault, director of the Regroupement des maison des jeunes du Québec

Community organizations argue that two years ago, Quebec had instead invested $40 million in the PSOC. “That was before the pandemic. With $37 million, we are keeping community groups in the same chronic underfunding they have been in for years,” concludes Ms. Painchaud-Mathieu.

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