Simpson and Chandra Herbert call on B.C. Liberals to live up to their promises to non-profits

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RICHMOND – New Democrat arts and culture critic Spencer Chandra Herbert and social development critic Shane Simpson are calling on the B.C. Liberal government to immediately restore gaming grants to organizations suffering under recent cuts and changes.

“What has happened here is simple. The B.C. Liberals broke a promise they made to arts groups, to sports organizations, to environmental groups – they broke a promise to the organizations that make up the life-blood of our communities,” said Simpson.

Simpson referred to the deep cuts felt by groups that in the past received gaming grants to fund their operations. This morning, Simpson and Chandra Herbert sent a letter to the office of Rich Coleman, the Minister for Housing and Social Development.

“We needed to send a clear message to Minister Coleman. We have heard from theatres, environmental action groups, community service organizations, arts groups and sports organizations, that this is breaking them. Organizations in neighbourhoods all across B.C. have been forced to cancel key programs, lay off staff, and in some cases, close their doors completely,” said Chandra Herbert.

“We can’t allow that to happen.”

New Democrats are calling for the immediate restoration of the gaming grants cuts to bring funding back to pre-election levels. The restoration would amount to $36 million.

“The government needs to bring the gaming grants back to the pre-election level of $156 million immediately. The B.C. Liberal cuts go too far – the B.C. Liberals are gutting organizations and communities, and it needs to stop today. These cuts will affect every British Columbian, in every corner of the province,” said Simpson.

The B.C. Liberals, in spite of being strongly against expansion of gambling when in opposition, have recently orchestrated unprecedented expansion of gambling in British Columbia. The government’s own figures show that they expect to generate $100 million in additional revenue per year. If the government’s proposed casino at B.C. Place goes ahead, they expect an extra $130 million per year.

“Projected increased gaming revenues from recent expansions mean that this cut is not a necessary one. The funds are available, so the B.C. Liberals need to re-think their priorities and remember the promises they made,” said Simpson.

Simpson and Chandra Herbert joined with the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming at their Annual Symposium.

“We stand with the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming and with the arts community in British Columbia when we say: enough is enough,” said Chandra Herbert.

The B.C. Liberals promised before the last election that the gaming funding for arts, community and sports organizations was safe.

“The social contract has always been that when government increases gambling in B.C., more money would go to charities, not less, as we see in the B.C. Liberal plan,” said Chandra Herbert.

“The volunteers and organizations I talk to say they feel lied to. The government either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that these groups are our communities. They are where life happens in this province. And if the B.C. Liberals take that away, it’s not going to come back,” said Simpson.

The Carole James New Democrats are offering a compassionate, fair and pragmatic vision with practical solutions to address our social economic and environmental challenges.