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TAPS, government differ on gaming grant cut

The Victoria non-profit group Together Against Poverty Society said yesterday it was surprised to be denied a much needed $65,000 community gaming grant, but a government spokesperson said the group's solid finances made it ineligible.

“To receive a gaming grant, a group must not have more than 50 per cent of its previous year's operating expenses on hand in the form of unrestricted cash and investments, to ensure that gaming grants are directed to organizations with the greatest financial need,” said a human and social development ministry spokesperson in an e-mail provided as background.

TAPS failed to meet the criterion and therefore was ineligible for a 2009-2010 grant, but is encouraged to reapply next year, he said.

“First of all, they didn't tell us any of that,” said Kelly Newhook, the executive director for TAPS after hearing the ministry's position. “Second, they told us the same thing last year and we reapplied and got the grant.”

The organization's fiscal year starts in August, which creates some confusion because it doesn't line up with the ministry's fiscal year, she said.

The letter the ministry sent this year did not say why the grant had been denied, she said. Knowing that the government had said it was going to focus on services to people with disabilities or low-incomes, TAPS was surprised to be denied the grant, she said.

The organization used the grant to provide a tenancy advocacy program that helps prevent homelessness, she said.

The ministry spokesperson said grants to organizations that provide services for low-income British Columbians and people with disabilities remain a priority and will be funded in 2010-2011 at levels around the same as they were in the past.

Minister Rich Coleman this week defended cuts to gaming grants saying the money was needed to fight the government's budget deficit.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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