Mayor: pain of cuts to social programs will dwarf savingsTuesday, October 09, 2012 by: Jordan Allard
Ontario Works' ability to assist the most vulnerable citizens of Sault Ste. Marie with their rent and hydro bills will be significantly hindered due to planned cutbacks by the provincial government.
Funding for the Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program's (ODSP) community start-up benefit will be reduced by 70% as of Jan. 1, 2013.
Kim Streich-Poser, commissioner of community services, thinks the financial curtailment doesn’t reflect the city’s current housing situation and demands from those in need.
Streich-Poser said monetary support may have been trimmed, but requirements of community’s social service sector haven’t changed.
In 2011/12, OW and ODSP received $1,280,000 from the province and next year they’ll get $391,331.
Streich-Poser reports approximately 10% of Sault Ste. Marie residents rely on OW/ODSP and 782 people have made use of community start up fund since August.
City council passed a motion at Tuesday's meeting to support a letter to be penned by the local social service administration board indicating potential negative impacts of funding cuts to the government.
“These cuts unjustly and negatively affect our city,” said Streich-Poser. “At this point the key action we can take is bringing public awareness to this issue.”
Streich-Poser said the letter will also ask the province to reconsider their slashing of the community start up fund and increase fiscal assistance to the city.
The community start up program helps victims of violence, those being released from incarceration or leaving a homeless shelter to establish homes via financial compensation of household items.
Financial aid was provided for household items such as first and last month's rent, purchase of small appliances and appliance repair.
Assistance with PUC arrears will also be reduced to a yet-to-be-determined figure and given the downgrading - Streich-Poser feels municipalities and voluntary organizations will be increasingly pressured to provide additional support historically provided by the province.
Currently, OW and ODSP are waiting for a government report on social assistance programs which will contain recommendations and guidelines pertaining to what funding can be used for and how programs should move forward given monetary reductions.
“We’ll have a better idea of who in the city can get help once the report is made public,” Streich-Poser said.
The report will be published on Oct. 15.
A reaction from the city to cuts was discussed at meeting held on Tuesday afternoon between Sault MPP David Orazietti, MP Bryan Hayes, Mayor Debbie Amaroso and members of the local social development council.
While Hayes and Orazietti listened to their concerns, Amaroso didn't get the sense any changes relative to our funding amount will be made.
The Ontario budget passed last spring capped health-related discretionary benefits for adults on Ontario Works, which pays for things like funerals, glasses and emergency dental care.
The measure will save $14 million in 2012 and $20 million next year.
Ward 2 councilor Susan Myers hopes the province will reconsider the city's financial allocation - otherwise the tax levy may be increased in an effort to provide additional support.
“This is a provincial responsibility that will become a municipal one if these reductions are indeed implemented,” Myers said.
Myers’ wardmate, Terry Sheehan agreed and feels the province is further downloading services to municipalities
Saying the cuts will cause increased homelessness, Ward 6 councilor Joe Krmpotich encouraged council to champion this cause.
“Stable housing is the base for so much more, including mental and physical safety,” said Krmpotich. “People shouldn’t have to be afraid of losing their children because they cannot afford their hydro bills.”
Ward 5 councilor Frank Fata thinks the system is broken and accountability is lax, so people should look to fix what he called their often self-inflicted problems.
“It's time for people to stand up on their own two feet,” Fata said.
Mayor Amaroso countered when people can’t meet basic needs crime, violence and homelessness will rise – harming the entire community.
She stressed council needs to do everything possible to get the government to increase local Ontario Works and ODSP funding.
“Social issues go hand-in-hand with these types of cuts,” said Amaroso. “The negative impact on our city will dwarf the funding reduction.”
Zarm27 10/10/2012 2:16:37 AM Report
k, it's tempting to go into a rant, but trying to stick to the points. 10% of the city requiring $1.2 mil Fed money yearly, I sincerely hope that's wrong, Since the amounts between OW and ODSP are different it's difficult to make an average. Although they say since August it has been 782 people that've received the startup, rounding up to the max that's 621k for SINGLE ppl, amount being more if there's a puppymill going on... That's apparrently changed from a yearly hand out to once every two years which imho should change to once. That Amaraso wants to say crime will increase due to S.A.D.(social assistance dregs), the crime is caused by them. You can see 3 seperate welfare recipients living together just to make ends meet, yet they drink, smoke, have their iphones, and are laughing. Don't get me wrong, there's also some people who are honestly disabled. Although they wouldn't bounce at the first of the month to get a fix instead of paying hydro. There's already many great local businesses helping the masses, and don't forget the non-profits. Fata has a point, if you support someones problem they get dependant. My suggestion, would be rather than looking for work instantly, try correcting your problems , maybe do some educational upgrading, drug tests, if weed is found present consider horticultural jobs etc. Idk, there's too many SAD people on it, lets weed them out once and for all. Also, any normal person can see that the reduction in S.A. has been contiuous which I hope isn't supposed to be a jab by the website lol.
Lostclause 10/10/2012 3:02:03 AM Report
Many of those that fall under the umbrella of receiving assistance from These are people who have at one point or another in their lives have had a doctor state in writing,that they are either physically or mentally disabled and thus are unable to either work at all or maintain a job that would allow them to make ends meet. Thus they get support from ODSP or OW.
According to the article Mr. Fata seems to feel that those who suffer from whatever unfortunate circumstance that got them labelled as "Disabled" brought it on themselves. My wife is one of many in this city who is labelled as "Disabled" and I would welcome Mr. Fata to explain to she and I exactly how it is that this was "self inflicted". Now I understand what he was getting at but it was a very poor choice of words.
Mr. Fata, as an elected representative of a ward in our city you take a great many liberties painting folks with such a broad brush. Are there problems with OW and ODSP? Certainly there are,but again it depends on which side of the fence you sit on as to what those issues really are. Do not punish everyone for the acts of some.
Some of us who may be affected by these cuts did not choose this life. I never expected my wife to be labelled as permanently disabled. Nor did I expect to have to stay home and care for her for the last 7 years.Heck,it's been 4-5 years since I could afford to take my wife out for our anniversary, but my family of four, we make do with the little we get and live paycheck to paycheck.There are always bills to pay,extra expenses that ODSP does not include (Back to school,school trips,pizza days,birthdays etc)that puts an even bigger strain on our limited finances.This is not what I envisioned when I said "I do"
According to the 2011 LICO stats based off a city with our population my family of four makes about $950 LESS (yes less) per month than the provincial "Poverty Line" this includes the monthly ODSP cheque,"baby bonus" and the Trillium payment.How much further can it be cut?
It is my opinion that by stating what you did, that you are in fact,sitting idly by the sidelines and allowing those of us who are barely standing on our own two feet to quite literally have the rug pulled out from under us. I urge you to get involved. Push for changes to the system for the better,be a force to help them to adopt more accountability from all parties involved,whether they be recipients or case workers. But do not cut off the whole foot that we stand upon because a few toes are broken.
Elmo1 10/10/2012 5:58:52 AM Report
Thank you Mr. Fata finally the truth is spoken. There are some who truly deserve disability and ontario assistance but the majority do not and play the system. Personally I'm tired of contributing to them - staying home, having daycare, the best of computers, etc. Many years ago when I was laid off and went to ontario assistance they did not help me with my PUC bill or housing, and basically said I did not qualify. I had two small children but managed to have 3 part-time jobs to support them and pay rent and put food on the table. So cutting social programs, perhaps if they do these people will quit scamming the system!
Wobbler 10/10/2012 7:24:13 AM Report
Elmo1: You can't paint everyone with the same brush. Do you have stats or some inside information that others don't have?
“There is a tremendous need to raise awareness about diseases and chronic conditions that have significant impacts on people’s lives, but are not physically apparent. Even people close to you may not understand what you are going through if you have a debilitating condition, because on the outside, you look the same."
These are quotes from Sherri Connell who led an active life as a singer, dancer, model and actor who enjoyed riding her horse. However, due to multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease and multiple chemical sensitivities, she now struggles to take a shower, get a meal or go to a doctor’s appointment.
“Even people close to you may not understand what you are going through if you have a debilitating condition, because on the outside, you look the same."
Elmo1: I sure would like to see statistics to back up your allegations!!!
Wobbler 10/10/2012 7:32:57 AM Report
WHO IS REALLY COMMITTING THE FRAUD AROUND HERE?
The general public has no idea what the system is really like. They think fraud is ramped in Ontario Works and ODSP. Here is something to think about and it is just the tip of the iceberg according to our research.
The provincial government says welfare fraud is around 2%.
Who is really committing the fraud around here?
The federal government says income tax fraud is 13%.
E-mail Ron Payne
AceOfBass 10/10/2012 8:01:54 AM Report
My wife is disabled and she gets no assistance outside of the token visit from a nurse every six months.I am her sole caregiver.
What I believe Councillor Fata was referring to is the abusers of the system,you know the sick,the lame ,the lazy.
There are those who have mental health issues and those that are just unemployable due to personal reasons.
These are not the freeloaders.
It is those who abuse the system and have made a career out of freeloading off the system.
Councillor Fata was the only Councillor who was not afraid to speak the truth until our bleeding heart Mayor shut him down.
JUSTANOTHERNAME 10/10/2012 8:29:28 AM Report
Sorry I had a hard time getting past the those needing help establishing themselves after being incarcarated. I have no problem assisting those who are disabled or giving a helping hand to those who where homeless but incarcarated?! You did that all by yourself get on your own feet like the rest of us. Yes I know they did it (crime) because they lacked social assistance and counselling before and it's a vicious cycle blah, blah, blah but somewhere someone has to draw the line and say man up and be accountable for your own decisions many others have been through the same hell and didn't go out and commit crimes.
iLash 10/10/2012 8:32:39 AM Report
It's all fine and dandy to lecture and label people on OW ( I am not referring to people on odsp as they have drs orders). But first off without immediate drug rehabilitation programs locally in our city which we desperately need, not much is going to change. Once someone is clean and healthy good luck finding a job in this city! Especially if they are someone who has committed a crime in their past. It's like a really bad never-ending circle for some. They will need the funding to get a pardon, but how do they get the funding without a job? Some people don't have any help from anyone. Most people who make it out of that sort of life have support and family help, those that don't end up even worse off. Without proper access to drug rehabs nothing in this city is going to change. There needs to be immediate access, not a 6 month wait!
Kevin5069 10/10/2012 9:33:55 AM Report
My Ex and her friends make use of that start-up fund on a regular basis. And they are getting a nice 'bonus' from the Trillum fund this year.
I agree some people need this money and need assistance, but there are too many abusers, and the system is too easy to abuse. Fix the current problems before pouring millions more down the toilet please.
Wheels17 10/10/2012 10:23:30 AM Report
I totally agree with Ms. Kim Streich-Poser and Ms. Debbie Amaroso. Cuts to funding would create lots of problems. I think I understand what Mr. Fata was getting at but the way his statement came across sounded very offensive to me and others who are disabled not by choice but by nature. Some of these problems would be fixed if there were some security measures or medical testing that would prevent people from abusing the system. Alos, maybe if there were more accessible employers in this city, people wouldn't have to stay at home all the time.
moem 10/10/2012 10:39:35 AM Report
These cuts are despicable and in the end they will cost taxpayers more money than most of you understand. It also sickens me that people are making a distinction between OW and ODSP and acting as if those on OW are less deserving, there are people on OW who are educated, not lazy and who would work if they could, has anyone seen an ad in the paper for 100 jobs? And even if there were, that wouldn't provide jobs to all those on OW. OW does not pay enough for anyone to live with or without addictions, and people in Toronto get the same amount as people here!! Getting off the system is difficult more difficult than anyone can probably imagine, even those with drive have a hard time navigating a complicated system full of red tape. And to the people who think ODSP folks are more deserving did you know that people can get declared disabled for drug addictions? I personally see the need and value in providing support to all those who need it, and have no problem with drug addiction being declared a disability for people who need it while they get help, but change is hard and doesn't happen overnight. And as for those who are incarcerated it is in our beat interest as a society for people to have assistance to rebuild their lives when they get released, many of them do reform and it's tough to stay on the straight and narrow when you are faced with life on the street and all it's temptations. I think it's easy for people here to sit back and judge especially if you have no life experience outside the Soo, try going to Toronto and look at the big picture, really look at the system and the people you are armchair judging, maybe the Soo is too small scale to immediately see the problems with these social cuts, but in Toronto even the less sophisticated of you would have a hard time missing the point when you see all the children who access community dinners and food banks, and sad to say the ones who have nowhere to go when they are done eating... It's truly sad and soon the Soo will face that kind of adversity, you will see
Wisenheimer 10/10/2012 10:43:17 AM Report
Shake the tree ... see what falls out!
BlackHelix 10/10/2012 11:00:39 AM Report
Speaking to ODSP...the problem is the scope of disability. If what Woobler says is right (and you have to check his/her fact of 2% fraud in ODSP), it doesn't account for the issue of scope.
A steel worker is in a car accident and suffers an injury to his lower back. His job requires him to stand up all day and therefore can no longer work. He applies for the ODSP and is approved. Is he disabled? Of course - but can he do other work? Absolutely. Could this individual work in a job that has him sitting down, or would an employer make certain accommodations considering his condition? The answer is yes. Just because he/she can no longer do the job they were previously doing, does not mean there are NO other jobs they can do.
This is not fraud, but it's not accountability either.
speed7 10/10/2012 12:23:31 PM Report
When is comes to drug dependancy I agree with mr fata. We are talking about people with dissabilities though? Then I dont agree. The city nor the government for that matter has no clue what it is like to live in a society when you are dissabled. NONE! You know who really benefits is all the AGENCIES. That's who? and there are a number of them in town for good reason. I have a relative who is hearing dissabled. Has been through all the agencies. They become pretty good just like ODSP is at filling out paperwork after paperwork. Hand government money over to CHS and MOD ect... all the agencies alright! You would think that he would have been called for one job? Not even a peep. Lots of paper work though? Alot of taking money and running off! No following up either. The Attitudes of local agencies in this city of Sault Ste Marie is the mainly the problem. They know of the poor market fo jobs in this city and they take advantage of it. No good jobs , no job placement programs, it's become a sad catch-22 and disabled people are the last to benefit. Ontario Works and ODSP can handle all these cases without need to shuffle money around. If someone needs hearing aids without any social assistance benefits they do not need to go to a 3rd party agency. Everything needs to be handled either IN HOUSE, directly with the audiologist. Then the goverment might notice where the money is bieng bled to and often for no good reason accept to support someone's wages. That someone who pretends to help the disadvantaged. Bieng the advocate and PLAYING the advocate are 2 seperate things. The government needs to step in and do audits of these agencies. Its just getting too silly.
As for people on full social assistance benefits, well it doesnt surprise me? This is the city's hands are tied somewhat but they do have voices and they can speak up! Our government for the most part is who makes the decisions for them. I would like to see a councillor who stands up for job growth and bring that up LOUD and CLEAR art council meetings for once! They need to get Haye's and David O's attention as well, I would say the concept of direct a JOB PLACEMENT programs needs to be honestly revisited again. There are so many employers that would cooperate with a program like this. Funding could be partially given towards people who are disabled to keep them working. Possibly land a permanent full time or part time job. Not to provide monies to agencies sorry, but its the truth!
Stugatzu 10/10/2012 12:48:22 PM Report
Some, but not all are abusing the system and have been doing so for a long time. In some cases, these people even receive help from family or friends to abuse the system. There's a low-life I used to know in my younger years who is a bit over 40 years old now. He's been on welfare since he was 21. His ex-father-in-law got him a great job in construction/home building that he held for almost a year until he got divorced. He then moved into the back half of his parents' home, without paying rent for the 12 years he lived there. His parents wrote fake receipts to make it look like he paid them rent monthly. This guy did nothing but go out for coffee every day and smoke cigarettes and marijuana and play video games and his guitar on welfare money. He somehow got a job at Tenaris for a week, until he decided he didn't want to work anymore; and back on welfare he went. This guy has literally smoked himself stupid to the point that he had a doctor write him off as clinically depressed and is now receiving disability benefits. Common sense and logic would tell me that if you don't interact with the public to some degree - you go stir crazy. Its nice to know that Welfare/Disability money that is meant for the deserving goes towards buying video games, guitars and marijuana. Again, I knew this guy growing up and hung around him in my younger years... I was working and paying my way through college and he'd ask me why I'm "always busy".
What a great system we have -- a guy can collect welfare and disability for almost 20 years, and we get to pay for everything they receive, even though they don't deserve a red cent of what they're getting. While those that _do_ genuinely need it have a tough time getting the assistance they need.
Its a shame. Mr. Fata isn't trying to label everyone on diability or welfare... he's trying to make a point about people like the guy I am talking about. We need a better system to get the free-loaders off the system. Its not about compassion, it is about helping those that genuinely need help with OUR tax dollars.
geterdun 10/10/2012 3:26:49 PM Report
heres some food for thought: each councillor makes 40,000 a year to be a part time coucillor. being that there is two in each ward ??? thats 80,000 for each ward not including the perks black berrys,trips around the world,free food for meetings etc. etc. now thats 80,000 for each ward not including the Mayors salary works out to be over a million dollars of tax payers money every year.....And they have the nerve to sit there and make comments about this please.......guys like Fata and probably others there are also getting a pension . They sit there making rediculous comments and mean while they are the worst offenders.....I say get rid of them all we dont need them they dont do anything for this city except steal tax payers money.......Hypocrits are alive and well at city hall...I dont know how these smug people can even sleep at night.....
You councillors all need to go get a real job and quit stealing the money from the tax payers you are all worse then those who you make biased opinions about on here.....
mmbears 10/10/2012 4:58:18 PM Report
Geterdun..... I don't post on here but I just wanted to let you know your numbers are VERY off!! I could tell you what they actually make but I'm not going to share the information on Sootoday. They don't get a pension from the city either after 4 years of service.
To make money you need to spend money. A lot of people complain about this City and how the PUC has a new building or whatever sucks....its hilarious. If you have issues go to a City council meeting instead of bitching online like a pu$$y. Too many old farts on here have no clue!!
Lostclause 10/10/2012 5:00:12 PM Report
City Council gets an honorarium and a vehicle allowance. Easy to find the amounts if you wanted to via Google.
madmaymax 10/10/2012 8:11:51 PM Report
JUST WONDERING COUNCILOR FATA WHAT WARD IS HE COUNCILOR FOR??? GUESS HIS COMMENTS TELLS IT ALL:):):)
madmaymax 10/10/2012 8:17:10 PM Report
HELLO TO ALL THAT THESE CUTBACKS AFFECT AND COULD AFFECT, COME ON OUT TO A COMMUNITY RIBBON CUTTING AT THE NEW LIBRARY/COMMUNITY CENTER TOMORROW NIGHT AT SAY 4:15, DRESS WARM, BRING A SIGN, I AM SURE THERE WILL BE ALOT OF PEOPLE THAT MAY SEE THEM:):):) FIGHT BACK NOW BEFORE IT IS TO LATE TO FIGHT THE CUT BACKS!!! SHOW YOUR SUPPORT IF THIS AFFECTS YOU!! HOW CAN WE READ BOOKS IF WE CAN'T GET GLASSES??? GUESS IT NOT ACOMMUNITY CENTER FOR THE LESS THAN!! THIS IS NOT FAIR ON THE GOV OF ONTARIO TO DO THIS, GUESS THEY WILL BE BUILDING ALOT MORE SUPER JAILS IN NORTHERN ONTARIO!!LETS DO SOMETHING BEFORE THEY START BUILDING AND HAVING RIBBON CUTTINGS FOR THESE!! HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL TOMORROW NIGHT ON GOULAIS AVE:):):):)
speed7 10/10/2012 11:07:46 PM Report
Stugatzu I agree there are alot of fraud cases. I know one couple who pretended to split up. They, once married and have 3 kids together. One parent landed a great job down south and she comes back home on the weekend to reunite with her family. Husband kids and all. Meanwhile scince they are divorced legally the other parent watching the kids also is able to collect child support social assistance benefits while the parent working down south makes a fortune at her high paying job! Talk about making alot of money on the sneak. Disgusting. My cousin with hearing loss suffers and struggles to find work refuses to go on any social assistance, most of all wants to work..... and these bozo's are robbing the goverment blind? How fair is that? No justice.
fronz 10/10/2012 11:30:01 PM Report
Hey why don't we just kill everybody .
Why? Because we've formed a society .
This form of society we speak of costs everyone , but here's the clincher , we as Canadians can afford it easily . The money for a cradle to death income doesn't get past the authoritative complex .They keep the income of the richest most opportunistic country in the world to themselves
Gianfranco Fronzi . October /10 /2012
nikki22 10/11/2012 4:22:38 AM Report
Streich-Poser is that a name ov some 1 hmm get rid ov that turd
nikki22 10/11/2012 4:25:39 AM Report
hmm get rid ov that turd