Province earmarks $42 million to offset cuts to anti-poverty programs
The provincial government has announced a one-time $42-million infusion to Ontario cities to help offset cuts to anti-poverty programs.
The Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB), which provides financial services to people who are at a high risk of becoming homeless, was scheduled to expire on Jan. 1, a result of the McGuinty government's effort to tackle budget deficits.
Several community groups — including about a dozen in Hamilton — decried the move as "inhumane."
However, on Thursday afternoon, John Milloy, the Ontario minister for community and social services, announced the new funding, aimed at giving municipalities temporary reprieve, four days before the CSUMB was set to run out.
"Certainly, I was pleased that the provincial government has decided not to implement the full cuts," said Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, of Thursday's announcement.
"The cuts would have put communities across the province in a difficult position," he said, noting the money will serve as "a bridge to bring us to our conversation with the next premier."
His organization, he added, will continue to advocate for "full reinstatement of all the funding and really look at making enhancements going forward."
It was not clear on Thursday how much of the funding would be earmarked for Hamilton.
The City had committed to fund the CSUMB services — as well as discretionary health benefits for low-income residents — for a period of six months.