Following cancelled AGM, Acadian group warns of burnout in non-profit sector
Non-profit sector relying more on older workers
SAF'Ile, a non-profit group that protects French language and culture on P.E.I., says the recent cancellation of its AGM is a symptom of a non-profit sector being stretched to its limits.
Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, executive director of Société acadienne et francophone de l'Île du Prince Édouard, said the group will normally have confirmed quorum of 40 members a week before its annual general meeting, but not this year.
"Just a few days before we didn't have the quorum, and we usually like to kind of have 45 or 50 just to have a margin. And for the first time we didn't reach that," said Dasylva-Gill.
"We couldn't take a chance to have people come in and then turn around and send them home because we didn't have quorum."
We're not to be seen as cheap labour.— Isabelle Dasylva-Gill
Pressures are growing on both paid and unpaid workers for non-profits, she said, and eventually something has to give. This time, it was the SAF'Ile AGM.
With the population of P.E.I. growing rapidly there is an increasing need for the services SAF'Ile has to offer. But that is happening, Dasylva-Gill said, without the ability to equally expand the workforce at the organization.
"We have people who are coming out of retirement to fill in those positions," she said.
"We are all human, and I think it's important to take into account that human part in the community sector. We're not to be seen as cheap labour. We're not to be seen as, 'Oh, they have that passion, so whatever the means they're going to do it,' because people are burning the candle both ways and it's not healthy."
Sharing the burden
While Statistics Canada does not regularly track volunteering, it does track paid workers in the non-profit sector.
The number of jobs in the non-profit sector has grown at roughly the same rate as the population, but that work has fallen disproportionately on older workers.
While the number of jobs grew 13 per cent from 2010 to 2021, the number of jobs held by workers older than 65 was up 50 per cent. Those seniors are also working harder, with the number of hours they put in annually up 25 per cent.
SAF'Ile has already begun a process of trying to ease the strain on its employees and volunteers, said Dasylva-Gill, for example by sharing some resources with different organizations.
New ways of dealing with the human resource shortage will be a major topic of discussion at the AGM, she said, which has been rescheduled for Nov. 18.
With files from Island Morning