District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board is considering options to amalgamate its three offices at 390 Bay Street, 180 Brock Street and 540 Albert Street East into a single location.
"We're looking to see where, if or how we could get into it," said Mike Nadeau, chief administrative officer, after a meeting of the Social Services board Thursday night.
"We have a procurement committee that is looking into it," Nadeau said. "We're just meeting to explore....it's a feasibility exercise."
The committee is assessing locations, viability and cost.
"The committee is tasked with identifying a long-term model (lease, own or rent-to-own) and one location/site where all offices and services could co-locate," Nadeau said in a witten report.
The procurement committee is expected to report back to the full Socal Services board by the end of this year.
Social Services is responsible for provision and delivery of Ontario Works, early years and housing services.
Through Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services, it also provides emergency medical services (land ambulance) service.
Nadeau told Thursday night's meeting that the province is moving to integrate services for Ontario Works, early years and housing services, as well as looking at further integrating employment and health services.
"It is anticipated that 180 Brock will move to one service counter over the next few months," he said in a report to the Social Services board.
"With anticipated legislative and policy changes to social assistance beginning in 2018, management has opted to wait until such changes are known and understood prior to spending any resources in the area."
Nadeau reported that considerable effort has been put recently into improving first impressions at the Ontario Works reception area.
"Upcoming modifications include a coffee station, frosted glass on the interview room doors for privacy, removal of four of 11 desks that proved to be a visual and physical barrier to service."
Other news from Thursday night's meeting:
- Social Services will submit proposals to enhance early-years services for indigenous children living off reserve. Final proposal are due at the provincial education ministry at the end of September
- Social Services is exploring new opportunities for expanding child care through area school boards. It's partnering with Algoma District School Board to develop child care at the new Boreal French Immersion school
- an affordable housing and homelessness working group is being established to ensure the vulnerable get appropriate supports and services
- Social Services wrote 7,926 cheques and processed 13,291 direct deposits during the first six months of 2017
- average number of Ontario Works cases in Sault Ste. Marie is 2,168
- from January to June, 132 individuals left the Ontario Works program after securing employment
- 290 medical devices were provided during that time
- 71 funerals or burials were paid for, for families that couldn't afford them
- seven homeless people were housed
- seven evictions from subsidized housing were conducted
- Batchewana First Nation and Garden River First Nation were added to the land ambulance service contract between Social Services and the City of Sault Ste. Marie. The existing agreement implied but failed to specifically mention the two First Nations