3:30 a.m., Dec. 11)
1.5% increase 'not enough', say social service agencies
By Fred Sherwin
social service agencies are having a difficult time keeping
up wuth rising demands combined with changes in provincial
funding and minimal financil support from the city.
the past four years the city has increased funding levels
for social service agencies by 1.5, 2.0, 2.0 and 1.5 per
cent while demand has gone up by 30 per cent over the
Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre, which
operates a food bank and provides counseling for families
and individuals in personal and financial crisis, has
seen an 11 per cent increase in demand since Jan. 1.
1.5 per cent funding ncrease contained in the 2016 budget
passed earliercthis week by city council is little more
than a drop in the bucket and will barely cover a modest
salary increase for the Centres dedicated staff.
continued failure of the city to maintain funding levels
on par with demand means the citys community resource
centres are increasingly dependent on the generosity of
the communities they serve.
frustrating part is that the city has benefitted from
the uploading of tens of milliins of dollars in social
service costs by the provincial government over the past
eight years and has failed to reinvest any of those savings
back into social services.
far, provincial uploading is saving the city about $65
million a year. By 2018, when the uploading measures are
fully implemented, the city will be saving $79 million
a year. Only a small percentage of those savings have
been reinvested in social services, mostly in social housing,
while the balance has been folded into general revenue.
in itself wouldnt be so bad if the province, having
uploaded the costs, provided adequate funding increases
on their end to keep up with the demand on the ground.
But it, too, has failed in its caoqcity which brings
the issue back around to the city.
funding issue is especially critical in light of the federal
governments commitment to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees
by the end of February.
over 1,500 refugees expected to be resettled in Ottawa,
the demand on social services, including child care services,
will inevitably increase.
city is hoping the federal government will privide special
funding to the municipalities to help cover the additional
costs, but if it doesnt, the burden will likely
fall on the social service agencies themselves which will
have to make do as best they can unless the city can free
up some money from elsewhere in the budget.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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