Meewasin Valley Authority funding uncertainty leads to employee turnover

Meewasin Valley Authority CEO Doug Porteous says “Meewasin cannot exist without statutory funding.”. Tyler Schroeder / Global News

The Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA) has lost five employees since September, as the conservation organization faces more provincial funding uncertainty.

Five employees have left the MVA since September, in part because the authority can’t offer job security without guaranteed funding from the Saskatchewan government and University of Saskatchewan (U of S), according to MVA interim CEO Doug Porteous.

Meewasin has roughly 20 full-time employees and will only replace one of the five departing staff members before the 2018 provincial budget is released on April 10.

The volunteer fundraising committee has also been impacted.

“Because they don’t know what they can raise money for at this time, they’re gradually losing interest,” Porteous said.

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“Meewasin cannot exist without statutory funding.”

In 2017, the Saskatchewan government amended the Meewasin Valley Authority Act to remove the statutory funding requirement for the province and U of S.

In a letter issued last week, Porteous asked the public to contact their MLAs and Premier Scott Moe about the importance of the MVA to them and the province.

“It is essential to the survival of Meewasin that the Government of Saskatchewan undoes the actions from last year, and in its budget this fiscal year, reestablishes long term sustainable funding as a participating party in the Meewasin Valley Authority partnership,” Porteous said in the letter.

The U of S has “always been supportive of the Meewasin Valley Authority,” according to a statement from Greg Fowler, vice-president of finance and resources at the U of S.

“As the university will not know what its provincial allocation will be before the budget is released April 10th, it would be too early to comment on any budget decisions in advance of the provincial budget,” Fowler said.

The City of Saskatoon has committed to $1.3 million in annual funding to the MVA, which increased after the authority approached city council during its budget deliberations in November 2017.

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The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport noted increases in municipal revenue sharing since 2007-2008 and stated improvements through other initiatives like the Building Communities Program have benefited the MVA.

“Prior to and after budget day, we will continue to work with the Meewasin Valley Authority, the University of Saskatchewan and the City of Saskatoon to find solutions for Meewasin,” the ministry’s statement said.

Meewasin has closed its interpretive centre and changed hours at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area in response to the provincial cuts.

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