Ford's cuts to provincial grants are shortsighted
In a Toronto shelter that serves elderly homeless men, there’s a new kitchen that will help them learn to cook for themselves. In some cases again, in others for the first time in their lives.
It’s a little thing, perhaps, considering all that these men still have to overcome to regain their independence after years of living on the streets and suffering from mental health and addiction challenges.
But it’s a really good thing, too. A central kitchen where they can prepare meals together will help them build a sense of community and healthier eating habits — both things they’ve had far too little of in their lives of late.
The kitchen at a WoodGreen Community Services facility was made possible with a capital grant of $27,800 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Unfortunately, those are the kinds of grants that may soon be harder to come by under Doug Ford’s government.
Last month, news broke about a series of misguided provincial government cuts, including education funding for programs targeted at struggling students, the College of Midwives and a $15-million cut to the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
These are terribly shortsighted moves that will do little to help balance the budget in the short term and will certainly contribute to higher costs in the long run. What amounts to pocket change to the provincial government in the hands of good community-based organizations has the power to transform lives for the better.
And the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has decades of experience finding those very organizations. Created by former Progressive Conservative premier Bill Davis in 1982, the foundation awarded $120 million to some 700 projects across Ontario last year.
And it’s not even taxpayer money per se, which Ford claims he’s so keen to leave in people’s pockets. The money for OTF comes directly from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., which excels at taking money from people’s pockets.
OTF “seed” grants help good ideas get off the ground and grow grants allow organizations to build on the success of proven programs. Capital grants help expand access and improve community spaces, whether that’s a kitchen in a transitional shelter in Toronto or an ice rink in an under-served rural community. The transform grants help to strengthen Ontario’s vital non-profit sector as it seeks to take on complex community issues.
It adds up to helping Ontarians and making neighbourhoods more liveable — things this province needs more of, not less.
The men currently staying at the transitional shelter at the WoodGreen facility — and benefiting from the newly funded kitchen — have up to four years to get back to independent living. It’s in everyone’s best interests that they succeed.
As Toronto councillor Paula Fletcher puts it: “They just need more care and attention in order to be successful when they leave here.”
That’s a principle that’s well understood in social service circles — pay now to do the right thing or pay far more later.
It’s time the Ford government started paying attention.