Manitoba

Future of Winnipeg women's centre unclear as province cuts funding, director says

Staff at the North Point Douglas Women's Centre are reeling after learning the organization will lose thousands in provincial funding it receives through the Neighbourhoods Alive program, executive director Tara Zajac says.

Tara Zajac says North Point Douglas Women's Centre will lose funds from Manitoba government

Members of the North Point Douglas Women's Centre pose outside the facility on Austin Street in Winnipeg. (North Point Douglas Women's Centre/Facebook)

Staff at the North Point Douglas Women's Centre are reeling after learning the organization will lose thousands in provincial funding it receives through the Neighbourhoods Alive program, executive director Tara Zajac says.

Zajac said the news was "tough to swallow."

The loss of $120,000 in provincial funding accounts for nearly a quarter of the total annual budget for the centre, which provides a drop-in for women and girls in the community, and may end the small facility's capacity to run the drop-in.

Many organizations already had their funding frozen while the Progressive Conservative government reviewed the Neighbourhoods Alive program, which provides support for community-driven revitalization.

Zajac said while her centre is losing $120,000 from the province, she clarified Thursday afternoon it is receiving $87,000 from the United Way through provincial funding provided to that organization, which will offset more than half of the lost funding.

But she said she had expected the $87,000 would be new funding and had already planned to bolster existing programming with it.

"I actually think I just froze," Zajac said as she fought back tears while describing getting a phone call about the cut.

"Like many other organizations funded by Neighbourhoods Alive, we just haven't known for a while and you just hope that you are going to hear the good news."

A spokesperson for the Progressive Conservatives said the North Point Douglas Women's Centre does not receive core funding through the Neighbourhoods Alive program.

"The Centre received two one-time project grants that expired in 2017 as per their signed agreements with Neighbourhoods Alive," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

But Zajac said the cut will mean 4.5 positions could be lost and services such as emergency food assistance, a free phone, computer access and the centre's donation-gathering abilities may be lost.

She said the cut might put the centre back as much as seven years in terms of the services it offers.

"We are a women's centre, but we are also the resource centre for all of North Point Douglas and I don't know where people will go now," Zajac said.

The centre has some great partners who have been supportive, Zajac says, but she's not sure if they can help pick up the lost revenue.

Rally planned for Friday

She said losing the province as a partner will have an instant impact.

"We change lives every day," Zajac said.

The centre is holding a rally on Friday in hopes of having funding restored.

"This is a direct attack on the health and safety of women and their families in North Point Douglas," the group stated in a post to its Facebook page Thursday.

"Your support is needed to show the government that this funding is essential to our community."

About the Author

Sean Kavanagh

Civic affairs - city hall reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Sean has had a chance to live in some of Canada's other beautiful places (Whistler, B.C., and Lake of the Woods, Ont.) as well as in Europe and the United States. In more than 15 years of reporting, Sean has covered some of the seminal events in Manitoba, from floods to elections, including as the CBC's provincial affairs reporter.

with files from Up to Speed

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