County anticipates unforeseen demand when CERB expires

December 3, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Dufferin County’s social service department is bracing for a “tsunami” of applications from people in need when CERB expires.

Demand on financial aid services and Ontario Works (OW) in the region is actually declining during the COVID-19 pandemic because of federal benefits, since CERB pays $2,000 a month, but OW only pays $733.

While it’s good that those in need are getting support, Housing and Community Services Manager for Dufferin County, Anna McGregor said she’s concerned with what will happen when the federal benefits expire, during last week’s Council meeting.

“The real concern that we have in community services, and it’s shared across the Province, is when the federal benefits run out, there’s going to be a very steep curve and a lot of people who suddenly crash,” noted McGregor.

“We’re almost bracing for a tsunami next year where people are going to be in real need. What that will look like and the amount of demand is anybody’s guess but the Province is very aware of that too.”

Some positive news for Dufferin County is the number of homeless individuals here is steadily declining.

There were 78 homeless people in Dufferin in 2016 and it dropped to 44 in 2018. Currently there’s a total of 25 homeless individuals in the County.

Interestingly, it’s much cheaper on taxpayers when government assists homeless people with accessing affordable housing, compared to leaving them on the street or using shelter services, McGregor said.

“The costs on the alternatives of homelessness, for example hospitals, emergency shelters and even jail, are a lot more than standard housing would cost,” she noted.

And while homelessness is improving in Dufferin, one in 10 people are still living in poverty here, according to Statistics Canada.

There’s also an average of 681 families waiting for subsidized housing in the County, said McGregor.

She added that across Canada, well over 200,000 people find themselves homeless each year and about 35,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night.

“Nationally we do have concerns with housing and affordability as well as at the local level,” McGregor noted.

Dufferin County offers rent geared to income, administering rent supplements, homelessness prevention programs to help people maintain housing and home ownership programs, which offer downpayment assistance.

The County also funds emergency shelters, operates its Ontario Renovates program, manages rentals it owns, and works with local housing providers.

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