There isn’t a week that goes by in Kamloops where there isn’t a fundraiser. In the last few months there have been gala dinners raising funds for the hospice, brain injuries and the arts. Sports teams have meat draws and sell raffle tickets.
The symphony sells used books, the campus radio station hosts live music at a coffee shop and 4H clubs sell manure. We fundraise for hospital equipment, cancer prevention and mental health. From fundraisers for the largest disasters like the Ft. McMurray fires to events to raise for one dog’s heart surgery, there are a constant stream of events.
Fundraisers are a part of our community.
Whether it is a run or golf, dinner or breakfast, raffles for pies or houses, there is an event for every budget and activity preference. Kamloops is an incredibly generous place. Fundraisers bring us all closer together, and make us into a community. But that doesn’t mean that everyone thinks that fundraisers are the way to do things.
In the Netherlands, fundraisers are almost nonexistent. Taxes subsidize sports teams, community groups and youth groups. Their personal rate is 52 per cent compared to Canada’s 29 per cent federal income tax plus about 15 per cent or more provincial income tax tax. Dutch sales tax is 20 per cent or more while B.C. has GST and PST of 12 per cent. The Dutch also pay far more in gasoline taxes.
People in the Netherlands expect services for the taxes they pay, and they don’t think healthcare, social services, or education should be funded through fundraisers.
I’ve spoken to a TRU student from the Netherlands who cannot understand how we can fundraise for things like kidney disease or seniors care. From his perspective, these are things which should be funded by taxes.
There are many great things about fundraisers, but it seems more and more, our community’s services are being funded by bake sales and gala balls. It shouldn’t be a surprise since the provincial government in general is funded more and more by bingo and keno sales. Back in 2001, the provincial government received revenue of $500 million from BCLC. In 2016, the amount is over $1.2 billion (and that is not even a fair comparison because now the B.C. government doesn’t show the portion that goes to the federal government).
It’s not just that we’re gambling more. Money that used to be distributed to community groups by BCLC is now being sent to the provincial government for general revenue.
It is harder and harder for community groups to get funding from BCLC. As well, with constant changes to the criteria, community groups have uncertainty from year to year about the money they will receive from BCLC.
Community groups are fundraising because there is no reliable funding from the provincial government or its sidekick BCLC. Certainly, when there is a large disaster, people want to do something, and opening one’s wallet is something that makes us all feel better. When an individual is facing adversity, supporting them financially is important to many of us. When a group wants to expand its services or raise money for capital equipment, fundraising makes sense.
But, the social contract of the provincial government to provide funding to community groups through BCLC needs to be reviewed and updated.
It’s great that Kamloops supports so many fundraisers, but the provincial government through BCLC needs to support our community as well.
— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.
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