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County services get budget boost from province

The County of Simcoe may see a boost to many of its services, including long term care and senior services, Ontario Works, and social housing
The Simcoe County Administration Centre is pictured in this file photo.




The County of Simcoe may see a boost to many of its services, including Long Term Care and Senior Services, Ontario Works, and Social Housing.

As part of the Government of Ontario’s 2016 budget, the province plans to invest $178 million in affordable housing and homelessness prevention, which will include the construction of up to 1,500 new supportive housing units over three years to ensure residents have access to adequate and affordable housing and $45 million over three years ($15 million per year) in new funding for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative.

“We are committed to implementing people-focused solutions to ending homelessness in our communities,” said Warden Gerry Marshall.

“With Thursday’s announcement, the province has shown its dedication toward ensuring its municipalities have the tools we need to help our most vulnerable.” 

As the Consolidated Municipal Service Manager for this region, the County also welcomed the government’s plan to increase social assistance rates by 1.5 per cent for adults receiving Ontario Works and people with disabilities relying on the Ontario Disability Support Program, with a top-up for those with the lowest social assistance rates.

Long-term care will see a 2% increase in nursing and personal care for the next three years, which continues to be less than previous years and lower than annualised costs. Long-term care in Ontario struggles with chronic provincial under-funding and would benefit from increased funding in order to achieve minimum standardized hours per resident.

However, a $10M boost to the current $44M Behavioural Supports Ontario funding (2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19) and a $250M increase to home- and community-care services in 2016-17 and 2017-18 is welcomed news.

The County of Simcoe provides senior services through several programs across the County and owns four long-term care homes located in Penetanguishene, Beeton, Collingwood, and Orillia.

As proud supporters of post-secondary education in the region, the County is pleased by the creation of the province’s Ontario Student Grant, which will make average tuition more affordable for middle-class families and free for students from families with incomes of $50,000 or lower, but remains concerned with the lack of new funding for other levels of education.

“Hospitals and schools are the backbone of every municipality. It is unfortunate that these institutions are at risk of closing in our smaller communities,” said Warden Marshall.

“The absence of funding formula changes in the 2016 budget to protect these critically important small town rural Ontario assets leave me concerned.”