By Zachary Cormier
For the first time in its history, the STARS Alberta Lottery is in danger of not selling out, organizers say.
During a press conference last week, STARS announced that the current economic climate has caused a slow-down in ticket sales for the 2016 lottery, and organizers encouraged Albertans to participate and buy tickets ahead of the March 23rd deadline.
“We are just over 70 per cent sold out right now, and in prior years we have sold out at this time, so we are behind and look for Albertans to help us out this year,” said Jeff Quick, the chief financial officer for STARS.
STARS is a community-based non-profit charitable organization that provides specialized emergency medical care and helicopter transportation for critically ill and injured patients. The annual Alberta Lottery is the organization’s largest source of funding in the province and raises enough money each year to cover a third of STARS’ total operating costs.
Last year the lottery netted the organization $11 million.
Quick said part of the reason the lottery is taking longer than usual to sell out is because of the economic conditions in Alberta.
“The whole province is experiencing it and we’re no different than any other organization in this province,” he said, adding that STARS is encouraging Albertans to help out in any way that they can.
“If they could go to starslotteryalberta.ca and purchase a ticket, we have $25 tickets and $60 tickets, $100 tickets and $250 ticket packages and anything you can do would be greatly appreciated.”
In 2014-2015, STARS flew a total of 1,839 missions out of their three bases in Alberta and their teams fly an average of five times every day and many of those missions save lives.
“It supports STARS and I know it’s an economic downturn in the province but emergencies don’t wait,” said Rebecca Fillinger, a mother from Rocky Mountain House whose son Rowan’s life has been saved twice by STARS’ service – once when Rebecca suffered an infection while she was pregnant with him and then again after Rowan fell backwards into the family fire pit at the age of two and suffered severe, life-threatening burns.
“If it wasn’t for STARS, who saved my life and saved his twice, he wouldn’t be here,” she said.
In response to the economic hardship in the province, Quick said some of the larger ticket packages have been reconfigured into smaller, less expensive ones to make them more affordable to Albertans.
“Previously, people have bought the $100 and $250 ticket packages, but of course with the current economy there’s not that kind of money around. People are looking at the $25 and $60 packages, so we created more of those,” he said, adding that while the lottery not selling out would not be devastating to STARS, however it would mean the organization would have to cut back in non-essential areas.
“We continue to operate. We’re here for the patients, we’re an essential service. We as a not-for-profit always run our business prudently and so we’re always watching our revenues and expenses, so we’ll be fine,” he said.
“Like other organizations we’re cutting back in the areas that we can, but we obviously don’t cut back in the essential service of our pilots and our medical crew and meeting the needs of the patients.”
The final cut off for the 2016 STARS Lottery is on March 23rd. For more information, or to purchase ticket packages you can visit the STARS Lottery web site at www.starslotteryalberta.ca.