Ontario Announces additional $150 million to social services relief fund
The Ontario government announced an additional $150 million investment on July 2 to the province’s Social Services Relief Fund.
This funding is a part of Ontario’s response to the federal government’s proposed Safe Restart Framework, which is dedicated to helping the homeless shelter system and others in need.
The initial investment of $148 million went to “our service managers and Indigenous program administrators to help strengthen community programs including their housing and homelessness systems,” said Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a press conference held on July 2.
“This funding allowed our partners to expand shelter capacity, purchase personal protective equipment, increase rent banks and provide emergency funding to those in need,” he said.
As Canada begins to reopen the economy, the funding will provide Ontario’s homeless support partners the opportunity to improve the system, he said.
“Our government is working to create longer term, innovative and sustainable housing solutions,” Clark said.
He said local service managers understand the needs of their communities best and the Ontario government will be working with them to ensure the funding goes to supporting those needs.
The Salvation Army is one of the provincial programs that has already received support from this government funding.
“We were able to ramp up the number of times that we serve what’s called a community meal,” said Lt. Gina Hagget, Salvation Army’s Ontario spokesperson.
The community meals not only help those within the Salvation Army’s facilities but feed the homeless communities around their shelters, she said.
Hagget said the governments’ long standing support for the Salvation Army has really come through during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They come to our facilities to walk around to understand what our needs are,” said Hagget. “They’ve really increased their support, very intentional support, the people in the community just reap the benefits.”
As the country and province begin implementing elements of the Safe Restart Framework, Premier Doug Ford said supporting the most vulnerable populations is what it means to be Canadian.