Author Topic: Ottawa won’t cut military family centres  (Read 1795 times)

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Mike Blais

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Ottawa won’t cut military family centres
« on: March 23, 2013, 04:59:20 PM »
Ottawa won’t cut military family centres

March 22, 2013 - 8:50pm By CLARE MELLOR Staff Reporter

But facilities could face job losses due to Defence expectations of cost cuts

The Defence Department is facing budget cuts but is not reducing the nearly $27 million in annual funding it provides to 32 military family resource centres across the country.

“There is no reduction this fiscal year,” Col. Russell Mann, director of Military Family Services, said Friday.

However, there could still be job losses at the centres, as the department is requiring that all 32 centres cut overhead and administration costs and reinvest that money in direct services for military families.

“I’m optimistic that they are going to find some efficiencies so that we can have more impact on families,” said Mann, who works for the Defence Department in Ottawa.

The resource centres, which provide programs and support for military families, are non-profit charitable organizations, overseen by volunteer boards of directors. Besides funding from the Defence Department, they also receive funds from other sources, such as corporations, government grants and donations.

In this province, the Halifax & Region Military Family Resource Centre provides programming and services to about 7,000 military families. It operates two sites in Halifax Regional Municipality, one at 12 Wing Shearwater, the other in Halifax. It also has an outreach office in Sydney.

The federal department has increased its funding to military family resource centres across Canada by about 25 per cent during the last five years, Col. Mann said Friday.

“Our overall programming for the family service program that we push to the (military family resource centres) like Halifax, is just shy of $27 million.”

“Halifax enjoys the biggest slice of that. In fact, last year (2012-2013) we funded them to the tune of $1.3 million. That is the most money given to any single family resource centre in Canada,” he said.

Information was not available Friday to show what percentage of the Halifax centre’s total operating budget comes from the Defence Department.

The military family resource centres in Canada are spending roughly 32 per cent of funds on management and administrative overhead, which is just too much, said Mann.

“As it applies to Halifax, specifically in the past year, they were working at about 25 per cent management and administrative overhead. It is lower than the average but we are systemically much higher than other non-profits in Canada.”

Across the country, mental health programs, information referral services , and special needs programs have been identified as priority programs by military families, Mann said. The department wants its resource centre funding to be put toward these and other priority programs, Mann said.

Earlier this month, the Halifax & Region centre posted a notice on its website that it was expecting reductions to its federal funding, and that cuts at the centre would take effect April 1.

Carolyn O’Malley, chairwoman of the centre’s board, could not be reached Friday, but in an interview earlier this month, she said that the board was reviewing its programs and services in light of expected budget reductions. She estimated that about 40 people are employed by the Halifax resource centre.

“Military families are our number 1 priority and that is what we will be keeping in mind as we go through our review,” she said.

Mann said Friday that he was just able to confirm this week that funding for the centres would remain stable for this fiscal year.

He said he expects staff layoffs could occur at some centres, as they roll out their plans to reduce administration and overhead costs.

“The funding line was confirmed this week,” he said.

“That, for me, is good news because it allows us to have a stable funding base while we try to do more with what we have.”