A volunteer with the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador said she's shocked by news that the organization might have to close.

"It's the only organization in Newfoundland that advocates for people with disabilities," said Laura George who uses a wheelchair.

"Who else are we to go to now?"


The organization recently moved into a wheelchair accessible office. (CBC)

The group announced Thursday that it is being forced to shut down due to cuts in government funding. Lobbying government on behalf of people with disabilities is a big part of what the Coalition does.

Last summer, the federal government started phasing out funding for Coalition chapters across Canada.

Late last fall, the provincial government decided to halt a $14,000 subsidy that the Coalition was using to pay rent. Government said in a letter to the group that it is not in the business of giving core funding for rent.

Situation 'unfortunate,' says minister

Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities Joan Shea said the extra money was meant to help the group find other sources of funding — and wasn't intended to last forever.

"This is very unfortunate that they may close their doors," said Shea. "We did it almost as a one-off or a one-time thing, over a couple years to enable them to try to get that plan in place."

The Coalition receives some private funding, but not enough to replace what it received from government. The organization has one paid employee.

"I've had personal experience with government policies and sometimes they're unfair," said George who volunteers with the organization as a way of giving back.  

The future of the Coalition will be decided by its members at a meeting on Feb. 6.