THUNDER BAY – Meeting the needs of those most at risk was the focus of a meeting in Ottawa recently. A delegation from the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association met with Hon. John Milloy, Minister of Community and Social Services at the Annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting in Ottawa. The Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA) is an organization of municipalities and District Social Services Administration Boards (DSSABs) that provides a political forum for reviewing and developing both social policies and social program delivery from a Northern perspective.
It works to reduce costs to municipal taxpayers through sharing best practices and taking joint action on issues of common concern.
Gary Scripnick, President of NOSDA and Chair of the Cochrane District Social Service Administration Board led the delegation that included Joe Krmpotich from Sault Ste. Marie, Louis Roussin from the Kenora DSSAB and David Landers from the Cochrane DSSAB.
The delegation focused on three key issues – the impact that the provincial budget changes to benefits has had on social assistance clients; the cumulative impact of provincial funding allocation reductions to Northern Ontario, and the importance of working together to ensure that we minimize the impact on the most vulnerable Ontario residents when policy decisions are made.
President Scripnick explained to the Minister, “In spite of the your Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, this Spring’s Provincial Budget announced the elimination of the Community Start-Up & Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB), the capping of both Health & Non-Health Related Discretionary Benefits and the elimination of Home Repairs under Ontario Works & Ontario Disability Support Program”.
He went on to note “The issues that led to the CSUMB eligibility expansion have not been remedied; in fact the situation is more dire. This, and the elimination of Home Repairs from OW & ODSP puts additional pressure on DSSAB’s and thus on municipal taxpayers”.
Sault City councillor Joe Krmpotich stated “DSSABs have been living under fiscal restraints since the forestry industry collapsed at the start of the decade.
“DSSABs cannot afford to carry its own, as well as the Province’s cost containment. Any further changes will lead to a further deterioration of health outcomes for low income northerners”.
President Scripnick went on to say that he was happy to report that “Minister Milloy committed to work with Northern Ontario DSSABs and CMSMs, particularly in terms of the cumulative effect of funding decisions. He also expressed an interest to come north to meet with us in northern Ontario to discuss social services issues on the ground”.