We are pleased to release portions of the 2018/2019 Annual Report online for easy viewing! Below you’ll find the Board Chair and Treasurer reports from the 2018/2019 Annual Report.
Welcome to the Skills Society Annual Report for 2018/2019. If this is your first exposure to the Skills Society, we are an Edmonton-based non-profit organization that contracts with the Government of Alberta for the provision of a variety of community supports for adults with developmental disabilities and adults who have sustained serious brain injuries. We also provide respite services for families who have children with disabilities. The Skills organization provides services to about 400 people. We employ 458 staff working in 796 full and part time positions. Guided by our vision, mission and core values, the Skills Society is exceptionally passionate about supporting the people who choose our services to live meaningful lives as valued citizens.
There are many stories to tell about the 2018/2019 year. Clearly, it was a watershed year for us. Key highlights follow.
Executive Director Patricia Conrad Retires
After 25 years with Skills, Executive Director Patricia Conrad retired in February 2019. Among other things, Pat brought to the organization a passion for excellence and an unrelenting pursuit of inclusion and belonging for all citizens. The board of directors is profoundly grateful to Pat for providing top tier executive leadership and commitment to our organization. She will be greatly missed.
Ben Weinlick Appointed Executive Director
After a lengthy executive search, the Skills board appointed Ben Weinlick to the position of executive director on February 11, 2019. Ben has worked for Skills Society for more than 15 years in a number of different capacities. In 2011, Ben completed a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University in Victoria. In 2011 he assumed senior leadership responsibilities with Skills and excelled each time additional responsibilities were added to his portfolio. The Skills board is confident Ben will honour the deep roots of our past while continuously improving our capacity to support deep belonging and full citizenship for all.
Alberta Economic Downturn Continues Unabated
The ongoing recession in Alberta created challenges for many citizens, businesses, three orders of government and all non-profit organizations, including Skills. Unrelenting downward pressure on government funding resulted in Skills Society having to cope with increased operating costs without the benefit of corresponding funding increases from government. While Skills was able to absorb inflation-driven operating cost increases for four consecutive years, we are acutely aware of a slow-motion erosion of our capacity to deliver safe, reliable good quality supports.
Creating Excellence Together Standards Certification 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. This was our year. As always, preparing for the certification review is an intensive process for both board and staff teams. When received, results from the review will provide valuable insights that will help us focus our ongoing continuous improvement efforts. The certification review concluded in February 2019. We await the results.
Persons With Developmental Disabilities Program (PDD) Review
The Ministry of Community and Social Services launched a review of the PDD Program in late 2018. The board and staff of Skills Society contributed to the review in a variety of ways (support for self-advocate participation in the review, written material, verbal presentations and conversations with elected officials and ministry personnel). We await the results of this province wide review.
Skills Advocacy Efforts
Skills is a strictly non-partisan organization. However, we recognize that our elected officials and other government decision makers need accurate up to date information in order to develop effective social policies and program budgets. During 2018/2019, Skills Society board of directors and senior managers met with and provided comprehensive written material to elected officials and ministry staff at all levels. Among other things, the Skills board communicated the need for improved salaries for disability service staff. Year-over-year low salaries in the disability service sector make it very difficult for organizations like Skills Society to successfully compete in the labour market for qualified staff. In human services like ours, skilled staff are essential to the delivery of safe, reliable, high quality supports.
It Takes a Village
The 2018/2019 Skills Society story would not be complete without acknowledging and expressing our sincere thanks for contributions of money and other resources from corporate Edmonton. These generous contributions are tangible manifestations of corporate and service organization awareness that including people with disabilities in all aspects of community life makes us all stronger and more resilient. We offer a deep and heartfelt thank you to the Royal Bank of Canada, the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, the Edmonton Community Foundation, Mystica Entertainment, the Oliver Safeway and the Whyte Avenue Rotary Club.
A Special Thanks
Finally, I want to acknowledge and thank our dedicated board members and our energetic and passionate staff group. Together, we achieved much more than any one of us could have achieved alone. That is the power of a high-performance team.
The 2018/2019 fiscal year for Skills Society has ended on a positive note. We have ended the year with a much smaller deficit than originally budgeted. This is due to the combined results of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) funding the legislated change in Employment Standards to General Holiday pay and the October 2018 legislated increase to minimum wage as well as the continued efforts made by staff to find additional sources of revenue such as grants and donations.
Skills Society recorded just over $21.36 million revenue in the current year which was $181,000 higher than the original budget. Total expenses for the year were $21.38 million, or $9,000 higher than budget.
Skills Society has a deficit prior to amortization and casino of $21,000 in the current year, compared to a surplus of $42,000 reported in 2018. After amortization and casino, Skills recorded a deficit of $141,000 in the current year compared to a deficit of $60,000 in the prior year.
Looking ahead to the 2019/2020 year, Skills Society is anticipating a balanced budget. Revenue deferred to the current year should help Skills manage any changes to funding which may occur in the second year of our two year contract with PDD.