The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to deepend poverty levels. There is no question that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Ontario’s most vulnerable as people have lost jobs or experienced reductions in income.
Ontario’s municipal governments co-fund and deliver social services through 47 Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs) and District Social Service Administration Boards (DSSABs). They have been on the front lines delivering the Ontario Works component of social assistance to low-income Ontarians. They are doing this in new, innovative ways using physical distancing as much as possible to help ensure the health and well-being of both clients and staff. Provincial support has been critical during this period to offer new ways of doing business and providing new social services funding.
The impact of rising social assistance caseloads and the associated administrative costs to municipal budgets remains to be seen. AMO continues to work with the government on new approaches to social services that will help manage the impacts of the pandemic during the recovery period and beyond. AMO is looking forward to continue working with the Province on strengthening the social safety net for Ontarians as recovery efforts continue.
The provincial government’s Social Services Relief Fund has literally saved lives across Ontario. The funds are flowing through Ontario’s CMSMs and DSSABs. Municipal service managers are making local decisions about community funding to support COVID-19 responses.
Despite the uncertainty of COVID-19, provincial support has been critical to helping municipal service managers continue serving vulnerable residents. The $350 million in social services funding has helped to ensure municipal governments, DSSABs and social service providers can provide critical services such as homeless shelters, food banks, emergency services and other community services.