How the high rate of inflation is affecting charities on P.E.I.

·2 min read
The United Way of P.E.I. says it and other charities are struggling to meet the needs of clients amid high food and fuel prices. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)
The United Way of P.E.I. says it and other charities are struggling to meet the needs of clients amid high food and fuel prices. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)

The high rate of inflation on P.E.I. is making it difficult for charities such as the United Way to meet the needs of clients.

The Island's inflation rate was the highest in the country last month at 8.9 per cent.

Andrea MacDonald, CEO of United Way of P.E.I., said the high costs of food and fuel present challenges for charities.

"There's no question that it's having an impact," she said.

The Boys and Girls Club in Summerside, for example, is paying more than $1,000 a week to transport children to and from its after school programs, MacDonald said.

"That's just a huge expense, and that's not going to go down anytime soon."

Food costs 'through the roof'

Food is the other big expense.

"I think everybody knows if you've been in a grocery store any time lately that that cost has just gone through the roof," MacDonald said.

We know a lot of Islanders are struggling to meet just basic needs. — Andrea MacDonald

Many charities rely on donations and fundraisers to support costs, but that's also becoming a challenge as more Islanders try to manage their own finances, she said.

"We're seeing an increase of demand for services, which is not surprising. So we know a lot of Islanders are struggling to meet just basic needs."

Kent Hudson, executive director of the Community Foundation of P.E.I., said it's an ongoing concern for the non-profit sector.

"I don't think anybody knows what the rising costs will do to us. But it's really, I think, safe to say that it's a concern because everything that continues to rise in terms of costs certainly can have an impact … everything from whether you're going to attend a fundraising dinner or a fundraising event or buy tickets on a draw or whatever."

Subsidies haven't kept pace

Some charities also rely on government subsidies and project funding to pay staff, but that has not kept pace with inflation, MacDonald said.

Submitted by Andrea MacDonald
Submitted by Andrea MacDonald

"Organizations we partner with really all want to offer fair compensation for their staff. One of the real challenges we're seeing is it's difficult to increase salaries across the board, not even to mention hiring new staff right now."

MacDonald said the United Way will have to be flexible with how its funding is distributed, and look for other ways to support its clients. And she encourages governments and individuals to step up if they can.

Hudson said it's particularly difficult when combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, and may take a few years to determine the full effect.

"It just seems that every time you turn around, there's another impact coming. And, you know, hopefully everyone kind of survives out of it from an organizational standpoint."

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