Sanjay Grover, director of financial ministry, gave Synod delegates an overview of how the diocese weathered the pandemic financially in 2020 and how it is fairing in 2021.
Anglican dioceses across Canada experienced about a 20 percent drop in revenue across the board, Bishop Shane Parker told the Synod in his comments about his experience at the House of Bishops gathering in late September.
“We did fairly well compared to other dioceses across the country,” said Grover, noting that the drop in revenue was just under 20 percent in the Diocese of Ottawa in 2020.
And the Diocese was able to draw on its collective resources to help support parishes. “As you all recall, in 2020, diocesan support was provided to parishes in the form of forgiveness of parish fair share, insurance and ECOPS [equalized cost of priestly services], and that totalled an expense of the diocesan books of $1.735 million dollars,” Grover said. The Diocese then applied for the federal wage subsidy program and recovered $1.8 million. “I want to thank all of your for sending in your monthly reports as to the changes in revenue [and] donations,” Grover said, noting that those reports for each parish were needed in order to file claims for the wage subsidy.
“In 2021, we provided support for one month [the cost of] which was $875,000. To-date we have filed the wage subsidy reports until April. We project that we will recover $762,000,” Grover said. “The subsidy is based on revenue drops, and revenue drops have been smaller in the last year or so….so there is a bit of a deficit,” he explained. “All in all, the wage subsidy and the benefits provided to the parishes is going to cost the diocese close to $29,000, which we will absorb.”
The new challenge going forward for the church is that the federal government ended its wage subsidy program in late October. “We will not be receiving any more wage subsidies from the federal government, so there will be a decision made early in the next year about how we proceed going forward as far as any additional support going to the parishes,” said Grover. “Hopefully, with us opening up again and moving forward, we should have some good news as far as finances both at the parish level and at the diocesan level.”
Consolidated Trust Fund
The Consolidated Trust Fund (CTF) was the source of a bit of good financial news as well.
The total investment asset value of the CTF is $59 million (In 2019, it was $52.3 M.) The unit worth at year end was $27.32 a unit, up from the previous year’s value of $25.14. “An 8.67 per cent increase year to year, which is quite good,” said Grover.
He noted that ownership of the CTF fund breaks down this way: Parishes (including Rectory Trusts and cemeteries) owned 59% of the fund, the Synod about 32%, the Cathedral Hill Foundation about 6% and the RAF (retirement fund) (and third parties) about 3%.
The dividend rate per unit of 77 cents was increased from 75 cents, the rate for the previous year.
Grover noted that $1,624,547 worth of dividends were paid, which represented a return of close to 3 percent. “As you are aware, even though our returns are higher, we do have a very conservative dividend rate at 3 percent, so that we can pay dividends regardless of what the markets do, so that provides stability in parish operations,” Grover explained.
“Having said that, the property and finance committee has approved a dividend rate of close to four percent. There is more information about that being sent out to parishes down the road to expect a little bit more as far as dividends are concerned, which is a bit of good news during these times.”
Bishop Parker thanked Grover, the property and finance committee the auditors and audit committee. “I think we can all feel a reassuring sense of our collective strength as we see our financial reports,” he said. “It is only one dimension of our strength, but it is important, and I hope we can celebrate that in some way and use and leverage that collective financial strength as we go forward.”