Ford government's rapid changes causing upheaval for non-profits, survey finds

Charities and other non-profit groups in Ontario say the Ford government has created a climate of "uncertainty and volatility" that is making it harder for them to do their work.

Some 30% of Ontario non-profit agencies say they face funding cuts in the wake of April budget

Non-profit groups in Ontario say their work has been made more difficult by the provincial budget introduced in April and unpredictable changes imposed by Premier Doug Ford's government. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press )

Charities and other non-profit agencies in Ontario say the Ford government has created "a climate of uncertainty and volatility" that is making it harder for them to do their work. 

The umbrella group representing the 58,000 non-profit organizations in the province says that while budget cuts are having an impact in the sector, most agencies are more concerned that the government has made changes rapidly and without consultation. 

The findings come in a report by the Ontario Nonprofit Network, to be released on Monday.

Non-profit groups "are now operating in a climate of growing uncertainty and volatility," says the report, which includes the results of a survey of nearly 450 agencies. 

"Organizations aren't just worried about having their funding streams cut, but also the speed and uncertainty of the decision-making process, as well as the lack of information, details, and engagement with the sector by the provincial government," the report reads. 

One anonymous survey respondent expects major changes will result from the government's review of granting agencies, but added: "We just don't know what [the changes] are, when they'll be announced, or even what process is being used and who's involved."

The report raises concerns about the "rapid transformation" resulting from the government's overhauls of health care and employment training systems and it urges the government to consult with the non-profit sector before making significant reforms. 

"We consult on virtually every single thing we do," said Vic Fedeli, minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, in a news conference on Friday.

Cathy Taylor is executive director of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, the advocacy group representing some 58,000 non-profit agencies. (Submitted)

"I believe that we are listening very, very carefully to all sectors." 

Non-profits "are struggling with how to have enough resources to do the work that they need to do in their communities and to keep on top of all the changes that are happening in the public policy area of the provincial government," said Cathy Taylor, executive director of the Ontario Nonprofit Network. 

The speed at which changes were made, the government's reversals on some changes, and the financial cuts have together "made it difficult for non-profits to operate," Taylor said in an interview. 

Nearly 30 per cent of non-profits surveyed said their budgets decreased as a result of provincial changes, and another 11 per cent were still uncertain whether their budgets would be cut several months after the budget was tabled. 

Some agencies surveyed raised concerns about the upheaval caused by the province abruptly changing funding commitments part-way through a non-profit's financial year.