Boost social assistance for Sudbury's poor, advocate says

The Canadian Red Cross in Sudbury says more people are using their housing program.

The Canadian Red Cross in Sudbury says more people are using their housing program.

But critics say that isn't a long term solution for people in financial distress.

Just ask Darcy Bowerman, who stood before a judge in a Sudbury courtroom Wednesday.

He was there to answer to charges of break and enter and theft over $5,000.

At 27 years old, he said he and his unwell mother can't pay for rent and they're at risk of becoming homeless.

Janet Gasparini, the executive director of the Social Planning Council in Sudbury, said Bowerman's situation is an illustration of a much larger issue.

She said families can't exist on social assistance.

"Those amounts of money have not kept pace with the ever-increasing cost of living," Gasparini said. "So they continue to fall farther and farther behind the eight ball. [People’s pleas for] more assistance in terms of rent and food vouchers shouldn't surprise anyone."

In Bowerman’s case, he did reach out.

He contacted The Canadian Red Cross in Sudbury to access the housing program. The program financially assists with rent and utility bills that are in arrears.

But Gasparini said, while these programs do exist, they aren't a bottomless pit of cash.