MEETING PREVIEW: County Social Services Meeting for January 11, 2023

This month’s Social Services Committee meeting at Wellington County, the first for 2023, looks to be very informative indeed. There will be an update about a key housing project, some 2023 budget talk, an update about the changing costs of childcare, and a report about last month’s holiday winter storm. A big agenda for the initial meeting of the year, and the first post-election turnover.

NOTE: This meeting takes place at 1 pm in Guthrie Room at the Wellington County Administration Centre on Woolwich Street.

65 Delhi Street Presentation – No report was attached to the agenda, but you can see the Cultural Heritage Resource Impact Assessment prepared by +VG Architects on the City of Guelph’s website here. Paul Sapounzi, managing partner of +VG, will deliver the presentation, which will go over the plans to convert the old medical building at 65 Delhi into supportive housing. Last month, Wellington County Council approved a $7.6 million capital budget for the project.

December Winter Storm Debrief Report – Stephen Dewar, GM and Chief of Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service, will report to the committee about the service’s response to the winter storm that happened just before Christmas. There were a number of challenges according to the written report, including the fact that many paramedics couldn’t make it to their stations while others couldn’t go home because the roads in Wellington County were so bad.

Dewar reported that through the height of the storm, call volumes were “moderately high”, but even the paramedics themselves sometimes need help. One ambulance responding to a call in Drayton got stick in a snow drift, and another ambulance was struck head-on by a transport truck while stuck in a snow drift near Mapleton. The report also tipped the hat to all the residents of Wellington County who assisted the paramedic service in their attempts to reach patients or to care for their neighbours until help could arrive.

“[T]he care that our residents received was only possible because of the assistance of the volunteer firefighters in each of our townships who helped access patients and provide care, and those snowplow operators who helped us reach the callers,” the report said. “We also had a great deal of help from local residents – farmers brought out their equipment when they saw us trying to reach their neighbours, and others assisted with shovels and snowblowers to help us access our patients.”

CLOSED MEETINGThis agenda was not included in the open meeting materials.

2023 Budget for Social Services – It looks like 2023 is going to be a transition year for the Social Services department at the County. The overall tax impact for 2023 is a 7.5 per cent increase for the County and an 9.9 per cent increase for the City, mostly around issues under the housing category of the the three sectors covered under social services. (The others being childcare and Ontario Works, which are both 100 per cent funded by the Ontario government).

In terms of housing issues, the department is taking a big hit because the County is losing $2.5 million in one-time funding, and the future of long-term provincial funding allocations used to support rent supplements is also in question. Additionally, there are a couple of new positions coming online in 2023, and the County is holding on to the Housing Stability Co-ordinator until 2024, a position that was supposed to expire at the end of July this year. The 65 Delhi project will not be tendered until it’s fully funded, and the County is still looking for about $1 million in additional funding that they’re hoping to fill from other levels of government.

2023 Supportive Housing Projects Overview – This is a straightforward overview that will give committee the specs of the three supportive housing projects currently under development including the aforementioned transitional housing with supports at 65 Delhi. Grace Garden and the Kindle Communities project are the other two developments creating a combined 92 units of new housing for those in need.

Revised 2023 Directly Operated Programmes User Fees – Parents using County of Wellington Early Learning and Child Care are now paying a minimum of $12 per day for childcare as of this month. This means that the County has managed to achieve the goals of the CWELCC Guidelines released by the Ministry of Education in December 2022 to reduce user fees by 52.75 per cent with a January 1, 2023 deadline. This is part of the Federal government’s program to offer $10 per day childcare across Canada, and the final approved daily rates are a dollar or $2 off the original proposed rates.

Ontario Works – No report for this item was attached to the agenda, but this will likely be the local Ontario Works statistics from October and November.

SEE THE COMPLETE AGENDA ON THE Wellington County WEBSITE HERE.

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