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Council supports letter to continue social services funding

Prince Edward County councillors unanimously agreed to ask the federal and provincial governments to solve their disagreements and not withhold funding for local social services.

Councillor Sam Branderhorst sought council support for the motion Tuesday night to focus on limiting mounting harms to the most vulnerable people – including 10 to 13 per cent of County families living on low-income.

The motion calls for the upper levels of government to continue current levels of funding for Service Managers and District Social Service Administrative Boards – such as the Prince Edward Lennox and Addington Social Services (PELASS).

“When the provincial and federal governments are fighting and are in conflict, it cannot be the municipalities that are punished in the crossfire,” said Branderhorst.

The council representative to the PELASS board learned $936,600 in funding from programs that support affordable social housing would be cut.

“That money from these programs went o repairing our current stock of community housing, making sure that the exisiting affordable housing is maintained and available to be rented to the people who need it,” she said.

“It also went to funding the Ontario Renovates Program that offered forgivable loans up to $25,000 to low-income homeowners who face the possibility of losing their houses. It helps renovate and replace items of necessity, such as heating systems, cooling systems, roofs, windows – all these things that keep our most at risk individuals in their homes, and potentially from becoming homeless.”

The motion stated PELASS was notified by the province March 25 that the federal government would cut $355 million in funding intended to support affordable social housing across the province, due to a disagreement with the province about how community housing units are counted as part of the National Housing Strategy Action Plan.

“Individuals in our community are having an incredibly hard time making everything meet on the money they currently have and it’s not getting easier,” she stated.

The resolution asks County council to advocate to the federal and provincial governments to negotiate the final three-year tranche of funding under the National Housing Strategy.

It also asks council to direct the mayor to write to the provincial and federal ministers of housing urgently requesting confirmation that financial support will continue for vulnerable households across Ontario currently in receipt of the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit prior to May 31, 2024; and that the resolution be copied to the ministers of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association, Prince Edward Lennox and Addington Social Services, the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus, and all Ontario municipalities.

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