Province must do more to fund GTA social services, says Region
MELANIE HENNESSEY Special to The IFP Halton Region is calling on the Province to improve the way it funds health and social services in the GTA. At a recent council meeting councillors passed a motion supporting recommendations to Queen's Park on what can be done to help municipalities deal with growth pressures facing everything from child care to hospital services. The suggestions council endorsed, which were originally put forward in a report from the Strong Communities Coalition, ask the Province to: · Immediately provide growth funding for health and social services in the GTA/905 regions of Durham, Halton, Peel and York · Revise the way funding is allocated for health and social services across Ontario so that it's distributed on the basis of population size, growth and characteristics · Develop a health and social services strategy for Ontario's highgrowth regions to complement the Places to Grow plan in consultation with GTA/905 stakeholders, including members of the Strong Comm-
unities Coalition. "There is no doubt that health and social service providers are feeling very stretched to meet the increasing needs in the community," said Halton Commissioner of Social and Community Services Adelina Urbanski. "If these recommendations are acted on, it would improve the capacity of Halton Region and nonprofit agencies to GARY meet that growing CARR demand." The Strong Communities Coalition's report contains the findings of a recent audit completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers that shows there's a large and growing gap between funding the GTA receives for health and social services compared to the rest of Ontario. The document explains the inequity has come about because "funding is primarily allocated on the basis of historical patterns. Population growth and demographics are generally not being considered."
In fact, the audit found the annual funding gap for provinciallyfunded social services in the GTA has grown over the last several years to more than $550 million, while in health care the gap is over $900 million. More specifically, GTA residents receive $181 less per person for social services, and $246 less per person for health care services compared to the average Ontarian. "The report demonstrates that provincial funding for health and social services in the GTA/905 are not keeping pace with the population growth taking place in Halton Region," said Regional Chair Gary Carr. "While Halton is taking a proactive approach in including health and social service issues in its response to Places to Grow through the Durable Halton Plan, we urge the provincial government to take action along with the federal government in coming up with solutions to fix the funding gap." The Strong Communities Coalition is comprised of the GTA/905 Healthcare Alliance and the United Ways of Peel, York, Durham and Halton (represented by the Oakville United Way).