Financial aid: community organizations say they are still waiting

Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – A year after the financial aid promised by the federal government, community organizations say they have yet to receive a single dollar.

In its 2021 budget, the federal government said it will provide $ 45 million in funding over three years for community organizations “that help make sexual and reproductive health information and services more accessible to vulnerable populations. “

Frédérique Chabot, director of health promotion at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, said his organization has submitted a request for some of the funds.

“Regarding the actual ads, [le gouvernement] has not yet decided which organizations will get funding, ”he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated last week that his government was considering legislation to protect Canadian women’s right to abortion after a leak announced that the U.S. Supreme Court intended to repeal the sign that “Roe v .Wade “on the right to abortion, which has been in force for nearly 50 years.

The Department of Health is responsible for administering the $ 45 million fund. The government expects $ 16 million to be paid in early 2022, according to the 2021 budget.

A ministry spokeswoman, Charlaine Sleiman, reported that agreements totaling $ 15.2 million had been reached with nine organizations. He did not confirm whether the money was given to them.

“Funding will be provided in accordance with the terms of the agreements,” he added.

It lists the organizations where agreements were reached: two associations defending access to abortion, five organizations linked to the LBGTQ community and two youth groups. Two of the nine associations presented a project focused on indigenous peoples. Funding of $ 9.7 million is reserved for Quebec -based organizations.

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada executive director Joyce Arthur said she had heard organizations complain about funding delays.

“The money is there, on the shelves. Documents or contracts must be signed. This delay is very frustrating, ”he said.

Jill Doctoroff, executive director of the National Abortion Federation, said her organization is still awaiting a response from the federal government to its request for financial assistance.

Despite the delay, Ms. Chabot cites the government’s desire to make “unprecedented” investments in sexual and reproductive health. He understands that the establishment of this fund may take some time.

“The government needs to set up the program from the beginning. Who is responsible for grants? How will the money be distributed? How to check usage? he says. Let’s make sure this investment isn’t wasted. This assistance from the Ministry of Health must be repeated. “

Ms. feeling. Doctoroff has not had enough funding for three years.

“Access issues will not be resolved in three years. We need recurring funding for people who need access to abortion,” she said.

According to Ms. Arthur, there are concerns that the three -year period will end without Health Canada distributing the full funding envelope.

Once the funds are exhausted, organizations that would have used the money to improve their services would have to reduce it, which would threaten growth, he added.

Those who take advantage of these services will suffer the consequences of these reductions.

“They rely on these programs, which have saved lives. It’s like pulling a rug from under you, ”Arthur said.

This article was produced with the financial support of Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.

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