Nova Scotia

Gambling Awareness Foundation of Nova Scotia spends little on programs

A foundation that's supposed to spend part of the province's gambling revenue on awareness programs and problem-gambling research didn't give out a single grant last fiscal year, Nova Scotia's auditor general has found.

Auditor General questions whether foundation meant to counter problem gambling is meeting its mandate

Auditor General Michael Pickup is questioning whether the Gambling Awareness Foundation of Nova Scotia is meeting its mandate. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

A foundation that's supposed to spend part of the province's gambling revenue on awareness programs and problem-gambling research didn't give out a single grant last fiscal year, Nova Scotia's auditor general has found.

Michael Pickup is questioning whether the Gambling Awareness Foundation of Nova Scotia is fulfilling its mandate. 

"In the last two years, the entity has received over $1.2 million in funding, and has awarded grants totaling less than $200,000, none of which was awarded in the 2014-15 fiscal year," the auditor general's latest report says.

Pickup said it is troublesome that his office learned of the money during a routine audit review.

'A significant concern'

"It's not for us to question the policy behind why an organization exists, but when an organization exists and is given money to fulfil a certain mandate and an auditor raises the question about whether that's being done, I would say it's a significant concern," he said.

Pickup says it's up to the foundation and the government to explain why money isn't going to what it is supposed to.

Interim NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald says the discovery calls into question whether the governing Liberals really care about gambling addicts.

MacDonald ​says given the increase in video lottery terminal revenue as a result of the elimination of the user-tracking My-Play cards, the province should be spending more on gambling help and research, not sitting on money.

With files from Jean LaRoche

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