Provincial Government responds to community demands, earmarks $42 million to address cuts to homelessness prevention programs
Hamilton Spectator: “Hamilton getting $3 million for social service cuts”
The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction’s statement:
Thursday, December 27, 2012
With four days to go, Provincial Government announces one-time funding – Limits cuts to critical homelessness prevention programs.
The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and community partners are commending the provincial government for listening to communities across Ontario and maintaining a significant portion of funding for critical community homelessness prevention programs for 2013.
The Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) –which provides municipalities with funding to assist individuals on social assistance to find and retain affordable housing and prevent homelessness– was due to be axed on January 1st, 2013. The City of Hamilton had agreed to continue funding the program for a six month period.
Two week ago, twelve communities from across Ontario met in Hamilton to issue a Joint Statement to the government, opposition leaders and Liberal Leadership candidates to demand that these devastating cuts not take place. “We are very pleased the provincial government has listened, and taken this important step to ensure vulnerable residents retain opportunities to find and keep affordable housing. It is less than 2012’s funding, but not as devastating as it could have been” says Deirdre Pike of Hamilton Organizing for Poverty Elimination.
“Maintaining housing is far more cost effective than dealing with homelessness once it becomes a reality” noted Roundtable Director Tom Cooper “We look forward to working with the provincial government in the months to come to ensure these programs are sustained and enhanced beyond 2013 – they are an investment for all of our communities.”
The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction had started a countdown clock to CSUMB cuts at http://hamiltonpoverty.ca/?p=596 the clock was stopped at 1:30 pm on Thursday, December 27th, 2012.
The communities endorsed the following Joint Statement:
“Twelve communities from across the Province met in Hamilton on Dec 14, 2012 to deal with the consequences of the cuts to CSUMB and discretionary benefits.
On January 1st there will be a devastating impact on people in Ontario.
The Province’s 1% increase to Social Assistance Rates is not enough to mitigate the damage. Uploading social services is appreciated, but is not going to stop the devastation. While it is correct the programs have been moved to another Ministry, the funding has been cut in half. These facts are not in dispute.
To help people get the jobs that will lift them out of poverty, they need these benefits. In a time when our economy is still struggling, adding barriers to those who are able to gain employment and better quality of life is counterproductive to building a stronger Ontario.
It is far more cost effective to keep people in affordable housing than to deal with the costs and negative health effects of homelessness.
It is bad social policy. It is bad housing policy. It is bad economic policy.
We DEMAND this policy be reversed. We need long term stability. Poverty can be reduced.
Stop legislating homelessness – every person in Ontario deserves a safe place to call home. Stop using the hysteria of the austerity platform to rationalize these inhumane cuts.
The consequences are too great for ALL of us.
Reverse the termination of the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit and reinstate discretionary benefits.
Help the people of Ontario and our economy.
Eliminating poverty is THE priority.”
Representatives from community anti-poverty organizations from Windsor, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Brant, Niagara, Cambridge, Toronto, Belleville, Peterborough, Halton, Peel and York Regions endorsed the Joint Statement.
Provincial organizations such as the Social Planning Network of Ontario, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the Canada Centre for Policy Alternatives (Ontario), the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition, Vibrant Communities Canada, the Put Food in the Budget Campaign and the Wellesley Institute were also in attendance at the December 14, 2012 Hamilton Ontario Communities Unite meeting. There is now an active Facebook group of more than 100 members.
For more information, please contact Tom Cooper, Director Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction at 905-523-5600 x 244 (office) / 905-512-7863 (mobile)