By Tom Cooper
Published November 06, 2012
Hamilton's anti-poverty organizations are encouraging Hamilton City Council to protect critical social programs that are at risk due to recent cuts by the Ontario government.
The provincial government cut or placed caps on two programs: Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefits and Discretionary Health Benefits in the 2012 budget.
The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction strongly believes that together, the two programs help low income Hamiltonians maintain health, retain dignity and prevent homelessness.
"We know these cuts will result in higher costs throughout the system later, so there will be no net savings," said Howard Elliott, Chair of the Roundtable.
Homelessness prevention programs, including those that assist victims of abuse to relocate to a new residence are hallmarks of the Community Start Up Benefit. Also placed at risk through potential cuts to discretionary health programs are funeral services, dentures, eyeglasses, baby supplies, prosthetics and Hamilton's affordable transit pass for low income working families.
The immediate costs of the programs are not insignificant. To save them, the City will need to find up to $8 million through its own limited revenue sources - perhaps even resulting in a 1% property tax increase.
The Roundtable is concerned about the impact on Hamilton's most vulnerable residents if these programs are discontinued but has committed to work with the City and advocate with the provincial government in the coming months to reverse the decision that downloads costs for those programs to municipalities - and local taxpayers.
City Council's General Issues Committee will deliberate on the future of the two programs Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM in Council Chambers.
Delegates from the Roundtable, the Women Abuse Working Group, the Affordable Housing Flagship and the Street Youth Planning Collaborative will be among the presenters.
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