It's shocking news to many in Manitoba to hear of the NDP's budget cut to all regional development organizations. Pembina Valley Development Corporation was one of those to see cuts. Their funding of $60,000 is gone.
It's a fact of life that funding cuts occur in government, and programs come and go.
Even programs that have built up nearly 50 years of history aren't safe, and that by itself isn't a bad thing.
However, one would have thought the government would have made a more informed decision.
It's why this writer turned to Ag Minister Ron Kostyshyn to get some answers.
Why, I asked him, were the regional development organizations cut?
Duplication of services I was told. Many of the things these groups do are also available at other organizations.
Take the work that PVDC does with new businesses for example. MAFRI offers similar help as does community futures. However, all are currently swamped with the numbers. It's like cutting Altona's hospital, because it duplicates the work of Boundary Trails. That doesn't mean you don't need both.
But everyone respects dollars and cents right? So I asked my new friend Ron how much money the government would save?
Turns out he doesn't know. He'll get back to me, he claims. Or maybe a staff member will. Either way, my phone has yet to ring with that answer.
So let's put it in perspective. Provincial funding totalling $60,000 went to an organization that ran on a shoestring budget of $120,000. The remainder came from municipalities and special projects.
Essentially the province is getting great service for half price. Kind of makes you wonder how much it costs MAFRI to provide the same service.
Perhaps cuts there would have been more fitting. That way the NDP could end the duplication of services, but still have their 50 per cent off deal.
The program cost Pembina Valley region people about $1.11 each in provincial funds. That's $4.44 for a family of four.
A pretty good deal for an organization that supports education, business, tourism and looks at the big picture for the region.
It's pretty clear the NDP have not considered the big picture, but instead found something they could cut that didn't impact their voter base in Winnipeg.
Editorial Note: After this editorial had gone to press, on May 9, cabinet communications responded to the initial request to find out how much money will be saved. In 2011, the provincial government paid $490,000 (close to 38 cents per Manitoban or $1.52 per family of four) to regional development authorities.