Pride month is just days away but unexpected increases in costs for insurance and policing for the annual festival could put some events in jeopardy.
“The last couple months and weeks, it’s been added stress,” said Pride’s executive director, Sherwin Modeste.
Modeste said insurance premiums in 2022 cost just over $67,000 but in 2023, the cost ballooned to $278,000.
“When you’re dealing with the pricing of events, particularly with insurance coverage, you’re dealing with the pricing of risk and the perception of risk,” said Korey Pasch, teaching fellow at Queen’s University.
“I think that we need to keep within the broader context of this the impacts that right-wing reactionary politics that we’re seeing in Canada in regards to the LGBTQ2S+ community with regards to organized events, may be changing the types of calculations that go into the pricing for insurance coverage of events like Pride.”
In a statement, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said, “Insurance premiums are based on risk. In recent years, insurers have identified heightened risks associated with large-scale events and parades. These risks can be related to security concerns, crowd management challenges and liability exposures.”
Modeste said paid-duty officers are required for the festival but last year, Pride was quoted $62,000 and this year the cost has grown to $185,000.
In a statement, Stephanie Sayer, a spokesperson with Toronto Police Service said the service “is recommending an increase in the number of paid duty officers at the festival for a number of reasons, namely to do with the substantial increase in the event footprint, and not due to elevated security risks.”
She added, “the hourly rate to hire paid duty officers increases year-over-year, and increased by 14 per cent, per hour and per officer, in 2023.”
“With the increase in cost of operating and delivering on the festival, something’s going to give,” said Modeste, adding cuts could come to performers who are scheduled to take part in Pride events.
“If we have to make cuts, that’s where we see ourselves having make adjustments in order to meet the financial strain that has been added on to us. … Every dollar that Pride Toronto pays out our artists is money that’s well spent and I don’t think it’s fair to have say to artists, sorry we have to cancel your contract as a result of financial constraints.”
Pride Toronto receives funding from local, provincial and federal governments, but Modeste said more contributions are needed to avoid having to downsize the event.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the City of Toronto said “(the city provides) $260,000 in funding in 2023 through the Cultural Festival Funding Program (CFFP), as well as significant in-kind resources to stage its events. As demand for CFFP funding regularly exceeds the available budget, Pride Toronto has been advised that no additional funding is available.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism said the province also contributes to the event, “with contributions totalling $550,000. … We’ll continue to support LGBTQ+ communities in Ontario, including in assistance for events like Pride Toronto so that they thrive in Ontario’s tourism and culture sectors.”
“Festival month is in less than a week and we have less than six weeks,” Modeste said.
“If we don’t get a full commitment from them within the next week or week and a half, we are going to have to make some drastic decisions.”
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