Tag Archives: Region of Waterloo

Why the One Roof Pilot Didn’t Get Funding

The following is written by Regional Chair Ken Seiling.

Funding for Roof Pilot – February 5, 2016

A number of people have written to me and/or members of Regional Council with regard to the Roof pilot project which had requested funding through the Region. Hopefully the following information will help you better understand the situation. Unfortunately, media coverage had not carried the full story to date and left some incorrect assumptions of what has happened. This same response is being sent to all of those who emailed my office or various Regional Councillors.

The Province of Ontario revised and consolidated many of its programs with regards to homelessness. In doing so, it provided funding and greater flexibility to allow municipalities to better structure its supportive hosing and homelessness programs. Approximately $3.5 million was given to the Region to support better and increased funding for the hard to house and homeless population. This has long been identified as a pressing need in the community. Not only was there a need to provide more supports to housing providers but there was a need to upgrade many of the facilities operated under the former domiciliary hostel program.

To do this, the Region designed both new and improved facility standards and the ability to finance the staffing necessary for supportive housing. It then issued a call for proposals. Those applying had to meet the new standards. If they did, then they had to identify the number of beds they would provide and the costs.

In the report attached you will see that the Region awarded 291 beds to various agencies and groups at an average cost of approximately $9300 for a total of $2,704,466. There were a number that did not qualify either for not meeting the base requirements or because their costs were too high. Roof already receives assistance to operate its main program but had begun a pilot funded by a foundation. Their proposal was for 10 beds. Although they met the base requirements, their funding request was for $678,000.00 for the 10 beds, a cost of approximately $68,000 per bed. The proposal was simply too costly and to fund it would have meant reducing the number of beds to others in need by almost 73 beds. We simply could not sacrifice 73 badly needed supportive housing beds, real people in our community in need of supportive housing, for the 10 beds of this program. I think it is also important to note that all of the programs awarded beds do take people from the age of 16.

Although it would be great if we could fund every program, the reality is that our budget is set (at not an insignificant amount), that some of the submissions were too costly, and that our mandate  is to get the greatest number of people in need into a safe and good supportive housing situation, in some cases off the streets.  In summary, to fund  this particular program at this cost would have meant leaving more than 70 people without good supportive housing and in some cases possibly in homeless situations.

The balance of the funds are being used to provide supports to Cambridge residents where there were insufficient responses from organizations to award beds. Individual programs will be funded for these people using the balance of the funds.

The impression in the media coverage is that Regional Council has cut funding to ROOF. This is not the case. ROOF has received and will continue to receive approximately $250,000 per year from our funding program. What they applied for was NEW funding for a 10 bed pilot which was not previously funded by the Region. The application was not approved for the reasons outlined above. ROOF will continue to receive its funding to provide services to young people and this has not been cut.

Regional Council in its wisdom sought to properly house the greatest number of people it could with the funds it had at its disposal. This comes just after the Region picked up more than $2 million in discretionary benefits to people in poverty that the Province had discontinued funding.

I have attached the Regional Council reports so that you can read more fully what was done and why. Community Services Nov 2015, (It is the first report)  and Report on page 40 of Dec 2015 Community Services

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Thanks to CTV Kitchener and One Roof on Twitter for correcting the impression that One Roof is closing. The Record had the correct information that it was a pilot — Jane.

Why It Made Sense to Keep the Regional Daycares

I could give you the reasons but part of the presentation by Mary Parker, retired head of child care for Waterloo Region, does it so much better.

“Growing the system” by ending the provision of care in one area and purchasing care from another is not as simple as it may seem.

I believe that the divestment of directly operated childcare centres and licensed home childcare program presents too many risks, barriers and disadvantages for this Region.

What are those barriers and risks?

Capital Investments

The Region, as child care operator, has already invested in a long term capital strategy to fund the replacement of the five centres, three completed to date and two more over the next few years. Closure of these facilities represents the loss of invested tax dollars and uncertainty with respect to the future of the buildings. It is unlikely that community operators could afford to purchase these buildings or afford the actual leasing costs.

Jobs

The Region employs approximately 65 staff in the five centres and 25 staff in the home child care program. Regional staff is unionized and receive pay equity salaries.

If the recommendations of the KPMG report were implemented, 90 Regional staff would lose employment. There are significant implications and risks for the Region’s obligations under the collective agreement and under labour law, especially if the facilities are sold or leased to other operators.

Capacity

It is unlilkely that the childcare community has the capacity to absorb 450 childcare spaces. It is not a matter of simply expanding and transferring the spaces from auspice to another. This is a significant expansion, more than any current vacancies could assume.

Grants

There are no provincial capital or equipment grants to assist the childcare community to expand. There is  no certainty that the current pay equity funding and wage grants could be transferred to new operators and it is not known if the province could provide wage grants for the 200 new fee subsidies.

Subsidy Waitlist

There is not a subsidy wait list at this time. We know that this can change; it will increase and decrease as needs change. But without demand, there is no justification for expansion at this time.

Provincial Funding

Provincial funding relies, in part, on utilization of the fee subsidies. If the additional 200 fee subsidies  are not utilized, the province will reduce its funding for the Region and re-allocate its resources. The Region risks losing provincial funding.

Tax Savings

There are no tax savings for the Region in the divestment of the Regional centres and the identified savings resulting in the transfer of the home childcare program to a community agency are not substantial or verifiable.

Increased Costs

The divestment could represent some increased costs for the Region. At the minimum, there will be expectations from the community for capital, equipment and operating grants to expand their operations. there will be compensation costs resulting from job losses and possible labour issues. There are no guarantees that care purchased from the community will continue to be less costly than care that is directly operated.

Reduced Parental Choice

Parents have chosen Regionally operated centres and the home childcare program. Many families have located close to the centres or have chosen a trusted caregiver in their neighbourhood. they have chosen these programs because of specific curriculums, accreditations and specialized services. Closing the programs will reduce parental choice.

Service Gaps

The Region’s centres have been located in neighbourhoods with demonstrated need for care with consideration for other operators. Closure of the centres will leave some neighbourhoods without access for service.

Mary had a lot more to say about childcare generally. You can find her full presentation and the excellent presentation of other citizens here, http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalGovernment/resources/AF/FM2015-0930.pdf

Obituaries of the Poor

by guest columnist, Birgit Lingenberg

Dino

Died November 21, 2014, aged about 55.

Died alone in bed. He was poor . He helped homeless women by letting them sleep on his couch. Left leg removed due to diabetes. Ate most of his meals at the Ray of Hope. Enjoyed the social aspect at the Ray of Hope. Family never visited him, he died in isolation. (Dino was well-known and liked in his building – Jane)

Dino had mobility issues and needed an electric scooter and then an electric wheelchair. Last winter he got stuck with his scooter. He spent about $1,100 to repair his scooter. He took the $1,100 out of his food money. This meant almost no food money for five months for Dino.

No funeral service in Waterloo Region.

Terry

Died on November 25, 2014 at age 65.

Died at St. Mary’s Hospital. He was poor. He loved Tim Hortons for their coffee and for socializing. He did not have much contact with his family. He ate mostly out of cans. He smoked a lot for about 50 years and had diabetes and emphysema.

I saw him about one week before he died. In my heart I knew he would die. I asked him if I could call him an ambulance and/or a family member.

He said, “No, I’m fine. I’m just tired and weak. AND F— the family”

I told him that he looks terrible and that I can see he will die soon. We cried together

Eight days later he died. No memorial service as of today.

Roxy

Died January 3, 2015, aged almost 44.

Roxy died at Grand River Hospital. She was homeless. She love to help people, hug people and she loved music and dancing.  She was into drugs and prostitution and you may ask why.

Her one son died in a house fire. Her boyfriend at that time was babysitting her son while she was out. Because Roxy did not pay back all of the money she owed her boyfriend for some drugs, the boyfriend set the house on fire and let her son die.

Roxy always hugged me and I always hugged her. We had a very special friendship even though we were very different people.  She once asked me to ask the people like you what you could do to help people get out of poverty. Cause of death was a probable drug overdose.

Mihal

Died January 11,2015, aged 56

Died alone in his bed. He was poor. He loved Tim Hortons for coffee and socializing. He loved his sister  very much. His brother-in-law  did not like him. He was embarrassed to be seen with Mihal (Mike)because Mihal had schizophrenia for many years.

Mike used to cry because all he ever wanted was to be able to meet with his sister 2 or 3 times a week. Mike had a heart of gold and liked many people. Many people liked Mike too. He was my ex-boyfriend and we had our wedding paid for before we broke up.

A beautiful visitation, memorial service and reception at the Henry Walser Funeral Home on January 16, 2015.

The coroner said the cause of death was a heart attack. Mihal’s diet included lots of coffee, lots of sugar, lots of carbohydrates and many meals at the Ray of Hope and the soup kitchen.

Annie

Died January 21, 2015, about 42 years of age.

Died alone in her apartment. She was homeless a lot in her life. She was poor. She was into lots of drugs.

I saw her injecting drugs into her main vein on her left hand on January 16, 2015 during Roxy’s memorial at the soup kitchen.

There was Annie sitting on the girl’s bathroom floor in the mid-afternoon. What a sad sight! Annie told one of her closest friends that she missed Roxy and wanted to be with Roxy.

The memorial was February 6 at the soup kitchen.

Scotty

Died between January 29, 2015 and February 2, 2015 at about age 38.

He died somewhere in Waterloo Region. He was homeless and ate many meals at the Ray of Hope and the Our of the Cold churches. He was into drugs and alcohol.  There will probably be a memorial at the soup kitchen in the near future.

Angie

Died in mid-January 2015 at age 42.

She was so beautiful and kind and loving. She was Polish. She was homeless and used drugs and was into prostitution. Annie once told me that she had no other choice but to be into drugs and prostitution because there was no other way to survive. She ate many meals at the Ray of Hope and the Out of the Cold sites. She used to coach surf in order to be warm at night. No obituary int he Record.There might be a memorial at the soup kitchen in the near future.

Andrew

Died on February 2, 2015, aged 30.

Died in the Cambridge Memorial Hospital. He was poor. He was friendly and caring.

On Sunday, February 1, 2015, he left a friend’s Superbowl party and was walking home. Not too long after that he was found frozen in a snow bank. Cause of death was cardiac arrest.  There was a visitation on February 6 and a funeral service on February 7 in Cambridge.

Do you recognize these people?

They are well-known in our community.

They are people that I have known anywhere from one year to six years. They are people who were loved by many and who loved many. They were people who all lived in poverty.

What can people do to help save the poor people? What can you personally do to help poor people? Did you know that most poor people live 10 to 20 years less than the middle class and the rich?

GET RID OF POVERTY — SAVE THE HUMAN RACE!

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Note from Jane

I know and Birgit knows that these obituaries are controversial in spots. Being poor herself, Birgit wrote out the original of this blog by hand as she presently doesn’t have access to a computer. The committee and I were deeply moved when she read them out at the Employment and Income Support Advisory Committee meeting on Friday February 6.

There are some negative comments about families in this blog. Please understand that family situations can be incredibly difficult and no one should be blamed for a situation. I have removed last names. If you are a family member of one of these people and would like their obituary removed, I will do it ASAP.

ALIV(e), a local poverty group, has a blog written by poor people. You can find it here.

Sincerely,

Jane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ALIV(e) blog

The Election is Over and I Won!

Thank you so much to everyone who supported me in the municipal election. It was a tough fight but we did it! For those of you who simply read my blog,thank you for your patience with the election posts. I hope you learned something about the issues in Waterloo Region. (Yes I know it was two weeks ago, but I needed a bit of a break)

It looks like a good Regional Council with lots of sensible people elected. Over half of Regional Council is new but support for continuing the LRT build is strong. We are going to see the ION in 2017!

Among municipal councillors, we have one more woman elected across the Region. Go here for details, learnhowtorun.com

Coming, a new post in the continuing series of LRT around the world by guest blogger Kevin Thomason.

Tomorrow is Election Day. Don’t Forget to Vote for Jane Mitchell

Tomorrow is Election Day. Finally it’s your turn. Don’t forget to vote. Remember, I work hard for you, I’m experienced and I am a leader. You can find my five priorities and pledges on this blog and go to www.janemitchell.ca for my experience. I pledge to continue working hard for you, doing my research and giving you straight talk about the issues. Together we can make Waterloo and Waterloo Region the best place to live, work and play.

janepostcardlarg

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, My Fifth Priority for the Next Term

My pledge: I will support the work of the Economic Development Corporation and the programs in social services  and the college that help workers upgrade their skills

When I did my first round of election calls, a retired couple talked to me about their son who they think will be moving to Alberta to work in the oil patch. They were sad that he had lost his job during the Great Recession and still can’t find anything  equivalent to what he earned at Kitchener Frame.

Waterloo Region has weathered the Recession in much better shape than the rest of Ontario due mostly to our high-tech industries. The manufacturing industry has not done as well. Kitchener Frame (Budds) and Schneiders are gone along with other large manufacturers. Yet according to the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin, 82 % of those who lost their job want to return to manufacturing.  The problem is a mismatch between the workers, many of whom don’t have high school diplomas, and the skills needed in modern manufacturing. It is difficult for them to upgrade their skills. This comes up many times at the Employment and Income Advisory Committee that I chair at the Region.

Fork lift operator

Training to be a fork lift operator

There are manufacturing jobs in Waterloo Region.  The Workforce Planning Board notes that 1 in 5 jobs in the Region is in manufacturing. But when even a labourer needs grade 12 to get a job, the problem is large.

The Region of Waterloo has a number of programs to help people get back into the workforce. When I toured the Foodbank last week, we saw young men being trained to be fork lift operators through a Regional program. Helps the food bank and the worker.

The main reason the provincial and federal government gave money to the Region was to provide jobs. 16,900 jobs will be created around the LRT/ION stations, everything from shops catering to the urban dwellers to high-tech start-ups. 4,000 local jobs will be created in the building and operating of the ION.

The Economic Development Corporation has been created so that all the Region’s cities and townships can speak with one voice when looking for new business to come to the region. It is an arm’s length corporation that will include Canada’s Technology Triangle. Arms length from local politics seems to work well in our Region. The Eastside lands in Cambridge are also being opened up with large parcels available for large plants.

The other problem for the Region is keeping and attracting skilled workers. These high-tech workers want  a city that is a great place to live, work and play. It means a vibrant cultural scene, good alternate transportation like walking, cycling and transit, and an urban environment coupled with rural recreation like hiking and canoeing, along with regular recreation. These new startups and workers need to be able to go to and from Toronto without being stuck on the 401. Go Transit is key.  We must also support the universities and Conestoga college and make Waterloo a welcoming place for students while understanding some of the concerns of other residents.

The Work Force Planning Board

Transportation: Transit, part 4 of my Fourth of Five Priorities

My Pledges: I will work with staff to keep the buses coming on time and frequently. I will continue listening to and responding to GRT customer concerns. I will keep working on improving bus routes.

I ride the bus. My husband rides the bus. My older daughter rides the bus. My younger daughter and her family ride the bus. My three-year old grandson loves the bus and the song, The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, is his favourite . On a personal level and a political level, transit is an important file for me.

In the 1990s when I was a school trustee, transit was run by the cities. I had a devil of a time trying to get a school special put on for Bluevale Collegiate. Not much interest from Kitchener Transit which also ran the buses in Waterloo. There was no municipal bus between Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, let alone Ixpress or Bus Rapid Transit. Frankly, transit was not a priority for the city councillors of that time.

In 2000, transit was taken over by the Region of Waterloo and the new system was named Grand River Transit. Over the last 14 years, since I have been on Regional Council, transit has grown by leaps and bounds.

Specialized Transit

According to the Mobility Plus business plan, the service includes:

services provided by MobilityPLUS in the urban areas and North Dumfries and by contract to Kiwanis Transit for services in Wilmot, Wellesley and Woolwich townships. Since assuming this responsibility the total number of accessible trips provided by the Region increased by 116% from 190,936 in 2001 to 411,964 trips in 2010. This includes approximately 106,000 annual trips taken on conventional low floor transit buses on scheduled GRT bus routes.

All GRT buses are now accessible and the LRT will also be fully accessible, the first Light  Rail to do so in North America.

Regular Buses

Ridership has increased from 9.4 million rides in 1999 when GRT was established to 22 million in 2013. Ixpress and the Route 7 is packed with riders. Here is a link to the GRT business plan giving details of fares and route expansions, some of which have already happened.  It has a nice graph showing the growth of GRT.

http://www.grt.ca/en/aboutus/grtbusinessplan.asp

There is still a long way to go with the buses, though things are extremely improved. There still needs to be work on more routes, frequency and timeliness. Open Data and has been released which, along with GPS in the buses,  is leading to good apps to tell when the bus will arrive. Though the other day when my daughter’s bus was 10 minutes late, it was because the bus had been in an accident. Something that we would hope to avoid, but can’t always.

Transportation Part 1

Transportation Part 2

Transportation Part 3