CCSAC Writes Premier About Province’s Lack of Support for Ottawa’s Homeless
On behalf of its 22 member churches, CCSAC has written Premier Ford and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Clark to express disappointment with recent provincial funding support for homelessness issues in Ottawa. The city received 0.4% of the total $202 million annual increase under Ontario’s Homelessness Prevention Program, despite being the province’s second largest city. In our letter, we noted that CCSAC’s principal initiative is the local community food centre serving clients who are often precariously housed, and our downtown churches see first-hand the challenges facing many in our city today. CCSAC has asked the provincial government to revisit its support for affordable housing in Ottawa.
CCSAC Joins National Consultations on Poverty Reduction
By The Community Outreach Committee
Early in 2022, members of the CCSAC board and Food Centre Management Committee joined representatives from volunteer organizations, academics, community leaders and people with lived experience of low income from across Canada in virtual meetings to discuss ways to achieve further success in reducing poverty in Canada. The consultations were initiated by the National Advisory Council on Poverty (the Council).
The Council was created in 2019 as part of a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that set out specific goals and called for annual progress reports. CCSAC submitted a brief to the original consultations on creating such a strategy, noting the distinctive needs of those living on limited incomes in urban areas.
Each of the 2022 virtual sessions included over 100 participants offering a wide range of experience and views. However, several common themes emerged, for example:
- Social policy planners need to recognize the intersection between poverty and other problems such as a lack of deeply affordable housing, accessible childcare and support for mental health and addictions;
- The need for comprehensive and timely data;
- The benefit of sustainable funding for non profits agencies so that programs can be developed and sustained; and
- The necessity of including all stakeholders when developing policy and program responses to poverty.
Reflections from these national consultations will be included in the 2022 report of the National Advisory Council on Poverty that will be issued early in 2023.
A Voice For the City’s Vulnerable
CCSAC continues to urge the City of Ottawa to make adequate provision for vulnerable populations living in the central part of the city, especially during the pandemic-related lockdown when so many public buildings and private businesses have limited access. In particular, we noted the lack of accessible hygiene facilities and the need for respite and cooling centres during heat waves and warm accommodation during severe cold spells.
Downtown Food Centres Lose Municipal Funding
In January, Allison Dingle, Chair of CCSAC’s Centretown Emergency Food Centre Management Committee, and Lorraine Salvo, President of the Dalhousie Food Cupboard, met with City of Ottawa Councillors Catherine McKenney, Shawn Menard and Jeff Leiper to express our concerns regarding the Five-Year (Renewable) Sustainability Funding grants announced in September. The letter to the councillors noted that the allocation decisions left out the two food centres serving the downtown core of Ottawa. Although both food centres fundraise from their respective communities, the municipal sustainability funding has been key in the past because of its predictability. We noted that the loss of this stable financial backing will hinder our organizations’ abilities to work towards our shared goal of alleviating food insecurity in our city. We ask that the city consider replacing an “all or nothing” five-year funding cycle with staggered three-year funding cycles.
CCSAC Writes to New Member of Parliament Yasir Naqvi
CCSAC congratulated Yasir Naqvi on his recent election to the Parliament of Canada, representing Ottawa Centre which includes the CCSAC catchment area. We pointed out to Mr. Naqvi our primary areas of concern – food insecurity, the lack of deeply affordable housing, limited resources to treat addiction and mental illness, and social exclusion, especially among an aging population. We expressed our support for Bill C-35, introduced in the last sitting of Parliament, that aimed to reduce poverty by establishing a national disability benefit and our hope that a similar bill might be introduced into the current Parliament.
Access to Transit Important for Those on Limited Incomes
CCSAC has signed on as one of the 80+ organizations supporting the provision of permanent free transit in Ottawa for recipients of Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Payments. Although members of both groups qualify for reduced fares, they must still pay a disproportionate amount of their limited monthly income to use the public transit that is necessary to enable medical appointments, food shopping and employment.