Changes are being felt across Ontario
Looking across the province, we mapped the impact of budget changes geographically. Twenty-six per cent of respondents in the City of Toronto indicated that they experienced budget cuts, while a third of organizations outside of Toronto (32 per cent) reported that their budgets fell.
The data revealed that the impact extends to nonprofits across the province. This has implications for rural communities which have access to fewer funding resources, and therefore cuts to their budget or cuts to intermediaries like OTF can have more serious and unintended consequences. The reality is no matter where organizations are located, they are feeling the impact of the budget.
As well, based on survey responses, it would appear that the following subsections are most affected by funding and program changes:
- Arts, culture, and tourism (including museums, galleries, theatres, community arts)
- Social services (including child care, family services, services for the elderly
- Education and research (including employment and training programs)
The real impact of Ontario Budget 2019 will be experienced by people, children, and families who use nonprofit sector services (as well as a volunteer in the sector).
What we are seeing across the subsectors is less concern about what funding streams have been cut than the uncertainty around the speed of how decisions have been made and are continuing to be made, and the lack of information and details being provided by the provincial government and its ministries.
This impedes nonprofits’ ability to respond, manage, and consider solutions to address these changes, which could have unintended consequences, such as the increase for services, which may have been more affordable before the changes.
These responses show how budget decisions create a ripple effect across sectors, levels of government, and regions, ultimately affecting the delivery of services for people who use them. This could have lasting effects over time.
Over a third (35 per cent) of respondents in the Arts, Tourism, and Culture sector said that their budgets decreased.
There is also concern about the current reorganization of the Arts, Culture, and Tourism sector, and the impact of in-year cuts, as well as the relationship between the provincial government and its intermediaries, such as the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Music Fund, and what that may mean for this subsector.
Almost a quarter of social services respondents (24 per cent) said that their budgets had decreased. For some social service organizations, the ripple effects of cuts, such as cuts to school boards, means higher costs to operate in school spaces, with school boards now charging organizations to use space for their programs and services.
Nonprofits may not have had to pay for the space before, or only at a subsidized rate. To offset these new costs, some nonprofits may be forced to raise additional revenue, passing on higher costs to clients served, or adding further budgetary pressures to organizations to cover these costs in other areas of their budgets.
Twenty-six per cent of respondents in education and research also saw their budgets decrease.
With the current Employment Ontario (EO) transformation underway, a number of nonprofits have had contracts put on hold, while others are uncertain about how the transformation will affect their budgets.
For other subsectors, there seems to be limited impact related to budgets. However, organizations are anxious about the impact of system changes and program evaluations happening in government.
Health: A waiting game
In the case of health-focused nonprofits, for example, 46 per cent of respondents said that their budgets had remained the same, while more than a quarter reported an increase (26.7 per cent). Thirteen per cent said that they have seen a decrease in their budgets. There are concerns around the recent transformation from Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) to the new Ontario Health Teams, the future of services, and how those services will be delivered to vulnerable populations.