Answer: Social justice is a fundamental tenet for Greens around the world and, in principle, Greens would support an increase in funding that kept up with population growth. We favour increasing corporate taxes and returning to truly progressive taxation (the baby-steps proposed by the PCs are clearly insufficient to bring in the revenues needed in a fair way) in order that there would be adequate funding for essential services.
However, it has also to be noted that there are overlaps and redundancies in the mandates of the NGOs that provide many of the social services funded by FCSS. Greens would insist that greater efficiencies be found in the delivery of these essential services.
Our answers to questions posed by the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations are apt in this context:
What role does your party envision the non-profit sector playing in Alberta’s future?The Green vision for Alberta’s future would have all individuals, organizations and sectors contributing to a vibrant society in which every individual and family can flourish. Non-profit organizations of all descriptions would be encouraged to play a role appropriate to their mandate (reason for being) and size, that is, capacity.
Greens believe government (acting on behalf of all Albertans, collectively) has the primary responsibility to see that basic human needs are met. In a just society income should be distributed in such a way that much charitable assistance, for example, food banks and homeless shelters, would not be necessary. Accordingly Greens advocate for a guaranteed annual income that would allow people to live with dignity.
But of course there is a place for non-profit organizations to contribute to the creation of a compassionate and fair society.
Indeed the Green vision includes a considerably larger role for certain kinds of non-profits. We have in mind here cooperative and related non-profit forms of delivering housing and many other services, such as localized production of renewable energy. Greens look forward to a time when everyone has the opportunity to live and work in nurturing, humane communities and we think that cooperatives and similar organizations can play a large role in achieving this goal.
What is your party’s position on the role of government in supporting the work of the non-profit sector?The non-profit sector is very diverse and thus this is a very difficult question.
In connection with the delivery of essential services through municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals, Greens strongly support maintaining adequate levels of public funding and believe that tax rates for both corporations and more affluent individuals in Alberta have to be increased to ensure this is the case.
If we consider the work other types of non-profit organizations, Greens would ask a number of questions, including most importantly 1) should these services be delivered directly by government? and 2) can greater efficiencies be achieved if some of the non-profits delivering a particular sort of service – women’s emergency shelters, for example – amalgamate or share administrative services? Greens do not think that all essential services – for example, daycare – need be delivered directly by government. But it is always important to query whether the right sort of entity is offering the service in question.
Greens want to ensure not only that government funding is adequate and made available in the appropriate circumstances but also that the policy and law needed to enable non-profits – such as co-housing and cooperatives of many kinds – to flourish and achieve their goals are in place.
What changes, if any, would your party introduce to sustain support for non-profits through economic cycles, both through its granting programs and where it contracts for services?Governments should not cut back on spending when business cycles in the private sector take a downturn. Running up huge debt is clearly not advisable but the provincial government should spend so as to soften, as best it can, the harsh consequences of poor economic conditions.
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