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Community Living association must adjust for budget cuts

Mission Association for Community Living (MACL) is struggling with recent cuts and is now fundraising to maintain its current level of programs and services.

Funding has decreased in the past three years, explained executive director Dawn Hein.

MACL offers nine programs and annually serves 450 clients who have been diagnosed with intellectual or developmental disabilities. It has an annual operating budget of $7.5 million and employs about 150 workers, including 135 unionized (BCGEU) employees. All service contracts are negotiated and renewed annually.

MACL receives about $6.5 million from Community Living BC to run programs for adults every year, while $900,000 comes from the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) to support youth between the ages of three and 19.

The non-profit group also applies for community gaming grants every year to run the family support and respitality programs.

MACL accumulated a $500,000 deficit in the past three years, and was able to pay it off with its reserves.

“Some of this is a result of necessary, but unfunded repair/maintenance; some is related to the relocation of a group home due to mobility issues for residents, and the rest is over-delivery of services,” Hein explained.

MACL was forced to make cuts last year after learning the provincial government would not be covering the negotiated three per cent wage increases for unionized workers before the last provincial election. The salary increases for unionized workers add up to about $65,000 a year for MACL.

Last September, the province also cut MACL’s administration budget 10 per cent, retroactive to April 2013.

MACL’s receptionist was laid off last fall and the non-profit association has been trying to find other efficiencies.

The group is giving up its lease at Rutledge House, and re-organizing its administration office on Second Avenue to make room for the employment service program.

Everyone MACL supports is a Mission resident, and there are new clients every year as youth finish school and no longer receive support from MCFD.

“They come to us for employment support or living support,” said Hein.

“MACL does not want to cut programs, but we have had to make some changes to keep our head above water.”

To help fund services, MACL is organizing a fundraising gala in June. The dress code will be cocktail attire and there will be live and silent auctions as well as dinner and dancing. Vancouver band Top City will be providing the music. Tickets to the event are $80 each or $600 for a table for eight.

To reserve your tickets, or for more information, call 604-826-9080.

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