Nova Scotia

Cape Breton YMCA struggling with finances

The YMCA in Cape Breton is working to take control of an expected $300,000 deficit this year.

The YMCA is not filling positions, reducing hours to overcome $300,000 deficit

The YMCA in Cape Breton is fighting to keep its deficit down. It's had to outsource its cleaning, delay filling some key vacancies, and reduce part time hours.The organization is expected to have a deficit this year of $300,000. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Economic challenges in Cape Breton are now taking a toll on the YMCA, which is now trying to take control of an expected $300,000 deficit this year despite a significant increase in members.

The CBC obtained an internal memo to staff that outlined a number of measures the YMCA is taking to recover from that deficit.

The YMCA has tripled its membership to more than 5,000 since major renovations two years ago. Those renovations cost $12 million.

But in a memo sent to staff last month, the YMCA said it's in a difficult budget situation.

CEO Andre Gallant said while there are lots of new members, revenues are not keeping pace with expenses. He said the YMCA has added many new programs and is subsidizing hundreds of families who otherwise couldn't afford to be there.

Gallant said the local unemployment rate and the depressed economy also play a big part.

"When you're chronically at 15 to 18 per cent unemployment, when your low income cut off point is at 11 per cent of the population, then absolutely, one of our core beliefs is that we turn no one away," he said.

The organization has outsourced its cleaning, delayed filling some key vacancies, and reduced part time hours.

Board and senior managers at the YMCA are reviewing all the programs. Gallant couldn't say whether any would be cut.

"One of the things we need to look at very carefully is what the impact will be on parents, on clients, on members, on the kids in our care. I mean, we're going to deliver quality programs, this Y has gone, has made tremendous strides in the last 10 years or so, and re-established itself as a centre of community and a place for families, and we don't want to jeopardize any of that," said Gallant.

YMCA Canada has been asked to review the local operation and recommend ways to save money.

Meanwhile, the YMCA in Port Hawkesbury will ask the town to renegotiate its lease, and there will also be a bigger emphasis on fundraising for the YMCA in Cape Breton. Gallant said each department will be asked to look for savings as well.