Taxpayers Federation calls on N.S. government to cut funding to non-profit organization
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the Nova Scotia government to end a funding agreement with Engage Nova Scotia, which is headed up by a former leader of the provincial Liberals.
CTF Atlantic Director Kevin Lacey calls it a “sweetheart deal” for Engage NS.
“With all of the issues and problems we have here in the province, the question is whether or not we need to put this amount of money into this organization with such close political ties to the sitting government,” Lacey says.
Engage Nova Scotia receives $200,000 per year in cash, along with up to $200,000 in matching contributions for donations, office space and seconded staff from the provincial government.
According to documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation through Freedom of Information, Engage NS is responsible to “play a leadership and support role in engaging citizens and carrying out ongoing engagement activities, with the goal of more people stepping up to address our economic, social, cultural, and environmental challenges and opportunities.”
Danny Graham is the non-profit organization’s chief engagement officer, and says the annual Share Thanksgiving dinner is a tangible example of Engage Nova Scotia’s work.
“We invite Nova Scotians to open their doors to newcomers and international students, and to our pleasure, Nova Scotians have done that in record numbers,” Graham says.
He says the families that participate stay in touch long after Thanksgiving. The dinner is one way Engage NS is working to implement the objectives of the Ivany Report.
“The Ivany Commission report is one of several reports that dates back about 80 years. And for the first time, this report said that our challenges aren’t just economic, and demographic, but that Nova Scotians themselves need to be more ready, willing and able to build the future we want,” Graham says.
But Lacey says that shouldn’t be done at such a high cost to taxpayers.
“There are many organizations which all have good causes, but if this is such a priority for the former Liberal leader then he should go out and privately fundraise like many other organizations do,” says Lacey.
The documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation also include a cash flow projection for the first quarter of 2016. That lists professional fees of $20,544 for January, $21,284 for February and $19,284 for March. In each of those months, Danny Graham’s salary is listed at $13,584.
Graham says the funding agreement is not related to his political ties, and points out the original funding for Engage NS came from the former NDP government.
Nova Scotia’s premier also says while he considers Graham a friend, personal relationships are not at play.
“It’s amazing that that question is even being asked today when in fact he’s making less money from a party that’s being led by a friend of his,” Premier Stephen McNeil says.
“He is not doing this because I am giving him – nor have I created a job for him. He was hired prior to me coming.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it wants the contract to end.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.