Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker has called on the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to stop the proposed restructuring plan he feels would diminish local voices and representation at the provincial grant agency. "If anything, rural communities need more, not less local representation on the Foundation's grant review teams," MPP Walker writes.

While Mr. Walker feels the changes are not aligned with the OTF mission, Thomas Chanzy, Vice-President, Public Affairs for the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) offered some clarification of the proposals, which he said came out of listening to applicants, staff and volunteers following the implementation of the OTF's new Investment Strategy a year ago.
"The Board's proposal to restructure catchment areas," Mr. Chanzy says, "Aims to increase fairness to smaller, northern and rural communities by ensuring larger and more evenly distributed allocations to regional budgets in order to reduce systemic barriers and make the highest impact grants possible. The proposal also aims to improve customer service for applicants and grantees by introducing greater specialization of local OTF staff, especially in the support they provide locally to applicants."
The proposal still needs to be reviewed by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Mr. Walker has addressed his concerns to Minister Eleanor McMahon as well as the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation.

Walker is also worried about the impact of a $25 million cut in capital grant funding to OTF earlier this year without "advance notice or consultation".  Speaking as a former Trillium grant volunteer as well as MPP, he says  "There is simply no other provincial capital program out there to meet this type of need...It is a fact that with very few options for raising capital funds available elsewhere, it will undoubtedly demoralize a very committed number of individuals and community minded volunteers who are the heart and soul of our communities."

Mr. Chanzy explained  - "As was communicated to all MPPs, including MPP Walker, organizations with current capital needs are invited to apply for capital funding under the $25M Ontario150 Community Capital Program, whose application deadline is September 14, 2016. The Capital Grants Investment Streams will be reinstated in 2017 and new application deadlines will be released in the fall."

Mr. Chanzy said the OTF appreciates Mr. Walker's support and looks forward to working with all MPPs, including MPP Walker, to strengthen and support programming across Ontario and "to collaboratively create a lasting legacy in Ontario communities."