In May 2020, the federal government released the LGBTQ2 Community Capacity Fund in which the stated objective was “to build a stronger capacity and networks of LGBTQ2+ community organizers.”
This was a milestone moment for many LGBTQ2+ organizations. The LGBTQ Community Capacity Fund offered $20 million in grants to over 76 LGBTQ+ service organizations across Canada who were in need of funding for salaries, administrative costs, services, projects, and care.
The majority of LGBTQ+ services are operated by volunteers or a few staff members. However, to provide successful and vital services to queer and trans Canadians, organizations need persistent funding.
Many of the smaller organizations in more rural areas that benefited from grants through the Fund were also some of the first LGBTQ+ community service organizations of their kind in their region.
The Community Capacity Fund is set to expire in March of 2022. The 2021 federal budget announced $15M stretched over three years in funding for LGBTQ+ organizations throughout the entire country. However, there is no immediate replacement for the Community Capacity Fund.
Statement from M.P. Wayne Long
Wayne Long, Member of Parliament for the Saint John-Rothesay riding, said in a statement for The Baron that “…it’s important to recognize that this funding was never renewable. The intention of this funding was to provide support during the initial stages of the pandemic to groups that needed it. With that being said, I will fight to ensure that this funding is renewed by our government.”
Response to the cancellation from non-profits
The Enchanté Network, Canada’s largest network of 2SLGBTQI+ organizations, is calling for increased federal investment in these organizations. They believe that a lack of replacement for the LGBTQ Community Capacity Fund could lead to the closure of many organizations and services that would be devastating for local queer and trans people.
In addition to the renewed capacity fund, the organization is asking the federal government to work toward providing $25 million in annual continual funding for LGBTQ2S+ organizations that deliver front-line services so that its work can carry on once the new plan is released in the next few weeks.
“This was the first-ever fund of its kind in Canadian history,” says Tyler Boyce, executive director of Enchanté. “For a long time, queer and trans organizations have been excluded from funding opportunities at the federal level due to systemic homophobia and transphobia, as well as just not being considered and brought into those key conversations around funding opportunities.”
The federal government announced that it is developing the first-ever LGBTQ National Action Plan and its commitment to sustain 2SLGBTQI+ capacity-building funds as part of Marci Ien’s (Minister for Women and Gender Equality of Canada) mandate. There is no set date for its release.
Boyce says the $15 million capacity fund has changed lives all over Canada, and with this, there’s a sense of urgency for its renewal. There are currently no calls for proposals for any future funding, leaving organizations that rely on the funds to worry whether they will be able to keep their doors open.
Response from local organization Chroma NB
Chroma is a community advocacy organization focusing on creating a strong unifying voice in support of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in the Saint John region. Their goal is to promote initiatives that highlight issues that impact our community.
Chroma hosts several projects and events to help community members make friends, form bonds, build support, learn new skills, and creatively form a self-image within compassionate like-minded community members.
Alex Ash, Chroma’s President, spoke with The Baron about this issue, stating “…unfortunately, the lack of current funding opportunities means a lack of security for the organization. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to grow our capacity this year and we hope that there will be more federal funding for underrepresented groups in the future”
In terms of their work, Ash said, “We want to continue our work and mobilize the 2SLGBTQIA+ community here in New Brunswick. Right now we have a strong volunteer board but we cannot exist on volunteers alone. I hope that irrespective of funding, the community continues to support us and tell us what they need. We hope to strengthen partnerships with the UNB group True Colours this year and are open to other collaborations as well.”