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CLBC $4M fund to assist agencies a surprise to BACI
If Community Living B.C. has $4 million to help community social service agencies struggling with funding shortfalls, that's news to the head of one Burnaby agency.
"We didn't know, in the sector, there was $4 million available," said Richard Faucher, executive director of the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI).
"There was no funding ever offered to BACI. We were told to come up with a plan under the CLBC framework to find savings to pay staff the [wage] increases and we needed to fund it without cutting direct services to people."
Faucher was responding to a NewsLeader story in which three Burnaby New Democrat MLAs outlined allegations by agencies supporting people with developmental disabilities that their current funding shortfalls are the result of the provincial government reneging on a promise to pay the total three per cent staff wage increases in a contract negotiated earlier this year.
It's left BACI with a $420,000 annual shortfall for the wage increases on top of the $150,000 it was already grappling with related to items such as increased BC Hydro rates and Medical Services Plan premiums.
Faucher said BACI's moves to address the shortfall has meant "very few" staff covered by the contract are losing hours and changes to scheduling will not result in any loss of services.
However, on the management side, one manager has been laid off, two managers that left have been replaced by only one position and a maternity leave position has not been filled, he said.
He said he "absolutely" was of the understanding that the province would cover the pay hikes. "We were told when we signed this it would be covered, otherwise some of us would have been hesitant."
Faucher said the Ministry of Children and Families, whose programs are involved in less than five per cent of BACI's shortfall, told the agency in April that there was no new money coming. But the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, which covers the lion's share, didn't inform BACI until September, which left it scrambling.
While CLBC, which funds the agencies, was not involved in the negotiations, its spokesman, David Hurford, told the NewsLeader it has found $4 million in savings which will be used to help the agencies in the short term, by covering overtime costs for the Family Day holiday and increased Municipal Pension Plan premiums, for example.
In the long term, it would look at ways to address other issues with financial implications that the agencies face, Hurford said.
Faucher said colleagues he checked with were not aware of that funding being available, calling it "really intriguing."