Tag Archives: Region of Waterloo

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!

———————————————————————————-

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

 

Transportation : Cycling and Walking, part 3 of my Fourth of Five Priorities

My Pledges: I will continue to advocate for more cycling and walking infrastructure. I will fight for better snow clearing.

Cycling

Some people think that cycling is only done by rich, middle-aged men in Spandex. In fact it is the primary transportation for many poor people who cannot afford a car and find that transit can be expensive.

When I first got on Regional Council in 2000, I became the representative on the new Regional Cycling Advisory Committee because no one else was interested. We worked on the first Cycling Master Plan, putting lines on maps where bike lanes should go. We asked for money to build a network and begged staff to include bike lanes in roads projects.

Since then, along with the new staff person who works on alternative transportation and the cyclists, I have quietly and sometimes not so quietly worked on improving cycling in Waterloo Region.

Bike racks on buses, bicycle racks by bus stops and boxes to store bicycles, bike lanes down University and many other roads, bike lanes now included in every Regional road work, route maps, bike routes on Google, the Waterloo Spur line, segregated bike lanes. It is time to point out that the councillor who championed all this at the Region is ME.

We still have a long way to go. Segregated bike lanes are just beginning. We still need to fill in the gaps on the cycling routes. Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists need more education to work together. Snow clearing is also an issue for cyclists. Like in Scandinavia, more cyclists are riding in the winter. Bike lanes are not for dumping cleared snow.

I was so happy that the argument for segregated bike lanes for Manitou Dr. was about multi-use paths versus segregated lanes, not about whether cyclists should even be on roads.

Walking

It’s only been a few years since the Region took over the care and building of sidewalks on Regional roads from the cities. Like bike lanes, sidewalks are not on both sides of all regional roads. It is patchwork, though some are being installed with road upgrades. Snow clearing on the sidewalks and at bus stops continues to be a problem. It can be particularly difficult when a snow plow goes around a street corner and blocks off the way onto the street with a high hill of snow.

Walking across a roundabout is a problem, both for the able-bodied and the disabled. Where people nearby are disabled, the Region will, in the near future, put up a light away from the crossing right at the roundabout.

Constituents have asked why the crossings are so close to the roundabout. The answer is that pedestrians will not walk back a car length or two but will cross where it seems natural to cross.

Drivers are supposed to stop to let pedestrians cross at roundabouts. I would like to see all the small signs saying that traffic must stop for pedestrians made bigger, like those at Block Line road.

Walking is the basic form of locomotion for humans. Some use it for transportation and many use it for exercise. Why should people be stuck walking down a dirt path on the side of busy roads like Manitou?

Transportation LRT Part 1

Transportation Roads Part 2

Transportation, Transit, Part 4

 

 

Transportation: Roads, part 2 of the Fourth of My Five Priorities

My Pledge: I will work to get money added to Roads Rehabilitation

This past term, the Region of Waterloo built the first new bridge over the Grand River in 40 years. The new Fairway Bridge – I voted with Mayor Doug Craig to name it the Kossuth bridge, but what can you do? – links Cambridge and Kitchener and gives new routes to the 401 and Guelph. It is one of the areas of greenfield development, not everything is downtown intensification.

Three under/overpasses have been built this term, two in Kitchener and one at the Delta in Cambridge. The City of Waterloo has had a number of road upgrades and construction is all over the city.  Ira Needles is going to four lanes.

People are saying that the Region is seriously cutting road work to pay for the LRT. Here are the actual figures for spending on road construction from Regional staff.

In the 2014 Budget, the additional $1.3 million that would have been added to the Roads Rehabilitation Reserve per the long-term funding strategy was cut along with an additional $1 million reduction to the transfer to the Roads Rehabilitation Reserve for a total reduction in the transfer to the Roads Rehabilitation Reserve of $2.3m.

The Net Operating Levy for Planning, Admin and Construction in 2014 was $26.2 million; for Operations and Maintenance the 2014 Net Operating Levy was $20.5 million for a total Roads Net Operating Levy of $46.7 million.

On the Capital Budget side – The 2014 Capital Budget was $93.5 million ($915 million over the 10 year forecast 2014-2023). The $915 million breaks down into $409 million for Rehabilitation projects, $ 476 million for expansion projects and $30 million for Vehicles, Buildings, Equipment, and other.

That being said, I will vote to have money put into the Roads Reserve this year.

 Transportation, LRT part 1

Transportation,    Cycling and Walking part 3

Transportation, Transit, part 4

 

Transportation: The LRT/ION. Part 1 of The Fourth of my Five Priorities for the Next Term of Council

 My Pledge: I will continue to make sure that the LRT/ION is on budget and on time.

Why did I vote for the LRT?

I have a Master Library and Information Science. Before I made my decision on the LRT, I did my research. I looked at information for light rail and information for bus rapid transit, both pro and con.

In 2010, I said I wouldn’t accept LRT in its present form with respect to cost. The province had said they would give 500 million to the light rail project. They came in with 300 million. So changes needed to be made to the financing of LRT before I could find it acceptable.

Staff found efficiencies and savings and we went to a Public Private Partnership which brought the burden on the taxpayer down to 11 dollars per year per household. If the estimated cost of fares is included, the amount is .5  increase per year until 2018. When weighing the increase against the 20,900 jobs LRT will create, the benefits to intensification and reduced gridlock, the benefits outweighed the costs.

Also Grandlinq is very experienced in building and running light rail. The Region still owns the ION and will control fares.

During the last election, I promised to support looking again at rapid buses. Once again I did my research. I found BRT wanting.

For my research, I studied the light rail of a number of cities, both southern and northern cities like Edmonton and Calgary. The city I looked at in particular was Portland Oregon.

This is what a traveller had to say about Portland in 1970,

Scattered bomb-site look of downtown parking lots.

Compare this to today where the downtown is according to the Lonely Planet,

Portland positively rocks. It’s a city with a vibrant downtown, pretty residential neighborhoods

Why? Portland turned away from parking lots to intensification, light rail and transit. Waterloo Region is doing the same to save our farmland, stop sprawl, cut gridlock and create great vibrant downtowns. Downtowns that a few years before the hope of this project were dying.

The provincial and federal governments supported Waterloo Region’s light rail because it is a job generator. 16,900 jobs will be created around the ION stations. This does not include direct jobs such as ION drivers, construction workers and engineers building the line.

Waterloo is the city that will benefit most from the ION. 70,000 university students already jam the Ixpress and crowding is one of the issues the Feds talked to me about when we met. Imagine the gridlock if students got off the buses and drove again. The Universities and their high tech spinoffs are Waterloo’s bread and butter.

Traffic congestion can be solved by transit or by expanding roads. If we do not have the ION, we will have to build 300 to 400 new and expanded roads at a cost similar to the ION. Westmount at Glasgow will have to be 6 lanes as will Fischer Hallman and Victoria St.

The LRT is being built as you read this. Caroline St. is already dug up, the rail cars are ordered, contacts are signed. To stop it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars for nothing. Look to Ottawa where the LRT was cancelled then restarted when the buses ended up in a gridlock conga line at rush hour. If Bus Rapid Transit, with its slightly lesser cost upfront but more costs later to replace buses, were put in, it would end up costing more than the LRT because the millions wasted by the cancellation would still be on your tax bill.

That being said,  I will continue to make sure that the LRT/ION is on budget (Inflation has been built into the 818 million cost) and on time.

Transportation, Roads  Part 2

Transportation, Cycling and Walking Part 3

Transportation, Transit, Part 4

Smells, Peels, Poop and Pop Cans, Part 4 of Waste Management, My Second Priority for the next term of Regional Council

Pop Cans.

My Pledge: I will continue to monitor the costs of recyclables and work towards better solutions for waste management.

This post will be a little shorter. Perhaps I should make Waste Management my number one priority for the next term. So much to do in this file.

Recycling is a big success in Waterloo Region. People are great at putting out their pop cans, water bottles, newspaper, paper, tin cans, and brush for recycling. It is helping the landfill last longer and we reuse metals and paper.

The problem with recycling is the cyclical nature of remuneration for recyclables. Glass is no longer sent out to be recycled as the Region would have to pay to have it taken away. The market has tanked. However, please keep putting glass in your blue box,  the province requires it to be collected. The glass is crushed and used on roads in the landfill site. It isn’t put into the landfill.

The end of the recession means the market for recyclables is now improving again.

In case you might think that the Region never asks the public to engage or make suggestions, here is the results of a survey of residents about recycling.

Public Comments about Recycling

General information about recycling

Waste Management Part 1

Waste Management Part 2

Waste Management Part 3