In the wake of news that the Government of Saskatchewan has cancelled it's 42-year long agreement with SCIC to fund poverty reduction and community development programs around the globe, we have received an outpouring of support from concerned members, citizens, and partners. In an effort to demonstrate the impacts on our members' work, we have published excerpts from some of the letters to media and politicians below:
"Letter to Editor Re: NDP punished for leaking budget"
by Karen Farmer, Saskatoon (USC Canada)
Submitted to the Star Phoenix, CBC Saskatoon Morning
I don’t care who said what hours before budget day. I care that we didn’t see a budget before the last election, and that now information about significant cuts to social agencies is just leaking out. For example, with a total lack of transparency or public consultation, the government has cut all funding to the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC).
The member agencies of SCIC are modest but effective groups who support essential food security, maternal health, emergency aid for natural disasters, education for girls, and more. They work, (and often volunteer), to make our world a more just, safe and equitable place. For 42 years, SCIC has taught us about relevant global issues that impact us in our interconnected world. Surely this is something our government should also support.
When the devastating earthquake hit Nepal last year, SCIC’s member organization USC Canada could respond quickly and effectively with food, shelter and local seed aid for farmers. They could do this because Saskatchewan citizens care and they donated, and our provincial government honoured that with a matching grant.
Where our neighbouring Manitoba government can donate 1 million, we now give nothing. We used to live in a place where people helped those in need. Now we seem to be in a mean-spirited province.
"Budget decision to end funding to SCIC"
by Phyllis Goertz, Saskatoon (HOPE International Development Agency)
Submitted to Gordon Wyant, MLA
I appreciate the government has had to make difficult financial decisions, but I am very disappointed that the government has chosen to end its 42 year relationship with the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation by ending its annual contribution of $410,000.
I have been a member of SCIC for over 10 years representing HOPE International, an international development and aid agency which does awesome work like providing bore hole wells in communities in Ethiopia. Without this contribution HOPE International and the other SCIC member agencies will have less funds to do their work. A dollar spent in less developed countries has so much impact on the basics of life compared to a dollar spent here, it is really a great investment to give money to SCIC.
I recognize that when times are tough it is easy to feel our precious dollars should stay at home, but in the past 42 years Saskatchewan has faced many difficult budgets and it has never ended the funding to SCIC. This seems like a petty decision.
I would encourage you to ask the government to reconsider their decision. I believe it is short sighted and does not fit with the values of people in Saskatchewan who are very generous in giving to help those less fortunate to create a better life for themselves and their children.
"Termination of provincial funding to SCIC"
by Robert Granke (Executive Director, Canadian Lutheran World Relief)
Submitted to Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan
Greetings to you! I am writing to you in my capacity as Executive Director of Canadian Lutheran World Relief, a member of the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation. We are one of the original SCIC members, dating back to the time when SCIC was formed .
For many decades now, the funding for relief and development programs has been an integral part of the life of Saskatchewan residents and an important part of programming plans for agencies such as CLWR. Residents of Saskatchewan, including many thousands of Lutherans in Saskatchewan, have been engaged in support of humanitarian and development activities. The funding received from the Province has always been helpful, tangible, and critical in response to the increasing needs in developing countries and addressing the needs of refugees around the world.
The decision to not fund SCIC this year is a real blow to many. It is a regressive step and one which I very much regret. Funds allocated via SCIC have provided a positive leverage to access additional funds, at many levels. These funds serve as encouragement to others as we seek to engage more Canadians in international work.
My appeal to you, is that you reconsider your decision and reinstate SCIC funding. Of course I would welcome conversation about this and be pleased to elaborate on the significant benefits of this important instrument continuing to fully function into the future.
Many thanks for your consideration.
"Re: Budget cuts end 42-year partnership between Province and Humanitarian Groups"
by John Fryters, Prince Albert (Centre for Excellence in International Development Inc.)
Submitted to Nicole Rancourt (MLA, Prince Albert Northcote), Joe Hargrave (MLA, Prince Albert Carlton)
About one week ago one of the associations I am involved with informed me that one of their most valuable programs fell victim to the most recent provincial budget cuts...I want you to know our involvement in the Matching Grants in Aid Program and how some of your constituents in Prince Albert were involved and are now going to be denied to be further involved unless this program can be restored.
...In 2009/10, as Founder and President of CHAKAM School of the Bible Inc. I developed a proposal to assist South Sudanese refugees, returning back home after a very lengthy civil war in their home country...The combined funding received from [the Government of Canada] and the Government of Saskatchewan allowed us to build the Lire Comprehensive Vocational School, and to operate it for the first three years.
Because of the precarious political situation in South Sudan, both before and since the declaration of independence, we had cost overruns and other financial pressures. However, because of a strong donor base, we were able to apply on a few occasions to the Matching Grants In Aid Program (MGAP), the program which has now been cut by the current Provincial Government.
Because of MGAP we made it through those times, and, subsequently, we ended up successfully completing an international development project in very difficult circumstances. Not only was the project successfully completed, but it is still operating successfully in Lire, South Sudan without any further internal or international assistance.
Throughout the development and implementation phase, quite a number of your constituents were actively involved in the precious lives of the many returning refugees coming home to South Sudan. Some were involved through donating finances and services and I, personally, took a number with me into the "field" to perform hands-on work and meet our Southern partners. One of the most moving events was the first ever graduation of the first "crop" of students. I will always remember seeing the Canadian and Saskatchewan flags raised at the Graduation Ceremony and sing the Canadian anthem with all of our South Sudanese friends present.
All of this would never have been possible without the assistance of MGAP to the project towards the closure of this one project.
It is a sad day for SCIC, but more so for the agencies who were counting on this very unique way of financing international development efforts abroad. I urge both of you to speak to the Premier and the Finance Minister and see what can be done to restore this invaluable program.
What can I do?
- Contact your MLA and let them know you do not support these cuts to Saskatchewan’s international development program
- Not in the province? Contact Premier Brad Wall
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
- Share the news release and your reaction to the cuts via social media and email
- Share your thoughts on the impact of these cuts on SCIC members’ work. Send them to [email protected]
Image by Jared Rodriguez/Truth Out, used under Creative Commons License