Across various municipalities in the GTA there seems to be an increasing realization that poverty and the growing gap between rich and poor are hurting our citizens and threatening the vitality of our communities.
In that context I was out to speak to the Region of Halton’s Budget Committee this past Monday.
I was there on behalf of Poverty Free Halton, a citizens group that educates and advocates for measures that will eliminate poverty in our communities.
GTA Pooling dollars are not being fully reinvested into services to support Halton residents who are struggling to make ends meet.
Our request was “straightforward and in-line with what we believe is a matter of fundamental fairness – money that has been diverted from supporting human services in Toronto should be dedicated to investments in human services for residents of Halton.”
Council wants to use these savings to reduce the 2011 Social Services budget and bring forward a modest tax decrease (0.1%) for Regional services.
*more than 37,000 Halton residents are living in poverty below the Statistics Canada Low Income Cut-Off.
*social assistance caseloads remain high and have grown 43% since 2007.
*there are nearly 2,000 applications on the Halton social housing wait list.
*non-profit agencies across the Region face increasing demands for service but are hampered by flatlined revenues.
We wanted Council to consider putting resources back into food supplements for Halton residents who are in receipt of Ontario Works or at least to think of ways they might be able to do achieve something similar.
My sense was that Council was sympathetic to our point of view but don’t believe they have the flexibility and/or power to do anything.
A similar appeal to Hamilton Council last week got a more positive reception.