Board Chair Report
Turbulent Times Ahead
The Skills Society began fiscal 2019-20 with the realization that Alberta was in a state of flux. A new government had been elected, Alberta’s economy was in decline, government revenues were in free-fall territory, and new economic and social policies were being considered and implemented. Unprecedented change and reform were in the air, including reforms to the PDD Program.
Strategic Questions, Thinking and Planning
The overarching strategic question for the Skills Society was how best to position the organization to adapt and evolve in real time in a rapidly changing, unpredictable external environment.
In other words, how best to navigate turbulent times ahead, build resilience together and remain mission resolute for the people Skills exists to support?
These questions formed the backdrop for a robust, inclusive strategic thinking and planning exercise that resulted in recrafting Skills’ vision, mission, purpose, core values, operating principles and priorities for the next three years. Additional information about these important changes is provided elsewhere in this annual report.
The arrival of the COVID-19 virus added another layer of turbulence, concern and challenge to an already roiling environment. With the help of families, the people we support and the entire Skills staff team, we redesigned, in great detail, nearly every aspect of how supports are delivered. To date, not one individual or staff member has contracted the COVID-19 virus; a testament to early action and careful attention to detail.
Creating Excellence Together
Certification Standards Review
Every three years the Skills Society is required to undergo a certification review in relation to a comprehensive set of standards established by the Alberta Council of Disability Services. In early 2019, Skills was informed it had met all required standards in exemplary fashion.
Skills’ Influence and Advocacy Efforts
Following a government review of the PDD Program that concluded in late 2018, the Minister of Community and Social Services established several ongoing planning tables and forums to secure stakeholder input into future reforms of the PDD Program. Skills Society’s board and staff are active participants in the Minister’s forums. On behalf of the Skills Society, I thank Minister Rajan Sawhney for her considerable commitment to including community stakeholders in charting the future of the PDD Program.
Fund Development Strategy Renewal
The board and staff both recognize that non-profit organizations must diversify sources of funding and other forms of giving. Skills has undertaken a review of current fund-development strategies and is completing work on a more robust set of funding development strategies.
In particular, I would like to thank board member Darcy McDonald for his efforts in this regard.
Our Generous Community
An old axiom states: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far; go together.” The Skills Society realizes there is no one in our community whose contribution we do not need.
For the people we exist to support, Skills Society services aim to strengthen belonging and support individual choice and opportunity. We could never achieve our mission without the generous support of other community members. We give our heartfelt thanks to the Government of Alberta, the Edmonton Community Foundation, the Royal Bank of Canada, Telus, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and the Rotary Club of Edmonton Whyte Avenue.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Skills and many other service providers struggled to find adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). We gratefully acknowledge contributions of PPE from Pagnotta Construction, St. Albert Dental Centre, Staples on Calgary Trail, SkyAnne Krupa, Mira Facilitation Centre, Tralee Residential Services, Transitions, and the Honourable Kaycee Madu, MLA Edmonton South West.
Passionate and Dedicated Board and Staff
Last but not least, I want to acknowledge our passionate and resolute board and staff teams. Working together on our vision and mission has been both inspiring and deeply satisfying.
Board Turnover and Renewal
Community volunteers are the life blood of non-profit governance. Ongoing board member turnover and renewal helps to ensure effective oversight and stewardship of our precious non-profit ecosystem in Alberta.
This year, four members of the Skills board will be leaving us. All four made unique and valuable contributions, dedicated to the Skills Society and to the people we exist to support.
A deep and profound thanks to Dwight Hayes, Josh Gnutel, Julie Kucher and Thelma Ketler. Your passion, knowledge, experience and wisdom will be missed. We are also grateful for the contributions of Rebecca Rubuliak who joined us this past year as a board intern through the University of Alberta Community Service Learning Non Profit Board Student Internship Program.
The 2019/2020 fiscal year for Skills Society has ended on a positive note. We have ended the year with a small surplus for the year. Skills Society recorded just over $22.06 million revenue in the current year which was $202,000 higher than the original budget. Total expenses for the year were $21.99 million, or $157,000 higher than budget.
Skills Society has a surplus prior to amortization and casino of $163,000 in the current year, compared to a deficit of $21,000 reported in 2019. After amortization and casino, Skills recorded a surplus of $74,000 in the current year compared to a deficit of $141,000 in the prior year.
Looking ahead to the 2020/2021 year, Skills Society is anticipating a balanced budget. All government contracts are now three year terms which should help to provide stability to our major source of funding.
Rochelle Mitchell, CPA, CA