Good to Know

United Way of Peel responds to Budget

Written by Patti Foley

United Way of Peel Region Congratulates Government on Investment in Housing, Homelessness, and Poverty Reduction
– Peel Region (March 24, 2016)

United Way of Peel Region is focused on supporting the economy and poverty reduction in our community. We do this through poverty reduction, prevention and supporting those who are impacted by it.

We are pleased that the federal budget responds to the core elements of United Way’s pre-budget recommendations to address poverty and expand opportunities for low-income Canadians.

Shelley White, President and CEO, commented “The federal budget announcement on Tuesday aligns with the provincial government’s recent commitment to end chronic homelessness in 10 years. The United Way of Peel is exceedingly pleased to see both the provincial and federal governments’ commitment in ensuring that every Canadian has a warm place to sleep.

One in five children in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga live in Poverty. The new increases to the Child Benefit and Guaranteed Income Supplement will support seniors and low income families in managing the increase in cost of living.

With a wait list of over 12,000 for subsidized housing, Peel has one of the longest social housing wait lists in the country. Last year almost 15,000 people including 4,000 children and youth used homeless shelters and transitional housing. The announcements on affordable housing and commitments to end homelessness were more heartening than I can express.

These investments will go a long way to helping people who need it and to reducing poverty, especially child poverty in Peel Region. We look forward to continuing our work with government partners to drive better community outcomes for this large group of Canadians.”

We are very pleased to see the federal government commit to the following:

Housing and Homelessness
· Invest $112 million over 2 years to address homelessness in 61 cities
· Invest $89.9 million to renovate over 3,000 shelter spaces or transition homes for victims of violence.
· $112 million increase for the Housing Partnering Strategy including Housing First
· Increase affordable housing funding by $2.3 billion over 2 years including the construction of new units and the repair of existing housing
· Plans to develop a National Housing Strategy
o 14,520 individuals including almost 4,000 children and youth used homeless shelters and transitional housing in Peel
o United Way of Peel Region is concerned that there is only one youth shelter in Peel, which experiences such high demand they are forced to turn away over 450 kids per year. We are continuing to advocate for services across the housing continuum and for wrap around supports targeted at homeless youth to address this pressing issue within our community.
o With a wait list of over 12,000 for subsidized housing, our community has one of the longest social housing wait lists in the country and this investment will help pull people out of poverty.
o This is met with particular enthusiasm as it aligns with the provincial governments’ commitment to end chronic homelessness in 10 years

Child Poverty
· Enhance Child Care Benefit which will see an increase for 9 out of 10 families.
o 20% of children in Peel live in poverty
o New increases to the child benefit will support low income families, ensure children have access to basic needs, and break the cycle of poverty for children and youth.
o This is especially of interest as it aligns with the provincial governments’ 2016 budget priority to increase the Ontario Child Benefit which helps protect low to moderate income families from increases in the cost of living.

· Increase the top up for the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Single Seniors by up to $947 annually– an investment of $670 million annually impacting 900,000 single seniors
o 23% of seniors living alone are in poverty in Peel. In addition, 44% of the labour market in the GTA is precariously employed leaving many people without access to a meaningful retirement plan.
o This commitment will ensure the most vulnerable in our community are able to maintain an adequate standard of living when they retire.
o This is of particular importance as it aligns with the provincial governments’ 2016 Budget priority to increase income security in retirement through the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

· Doubling the size of the Canada Summer Jobs program to create 35,000 youth jobs; enhance the Youth Employment Strategy; and increase post-secondary education grants by 50% to low-income families.
o The youth unemployment rate in Peel is 18.9% and this rate rises to 30% for racialized youth.
o This investment will ensure youth have access to services and supports and that they are active and engaged in their community.
o This is particularly timely as it aligns with the provincial governments’ 2016 budget priority to launch the new Ontario Student Grant program which will provide free tuition for low income families, as well as their Youth Job Connection program (as part of their Youth Action Plan)

Syrian Refugees
· Invest $245 million over five years, for the identification, overseas processing, transportation and resettlement of an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees
o Over 50% of Peel’s population is comprised of immigrants, making it one of the most culturally diverse communities in Ontario.
o 15.2% of newcomers in Peel are unemployed.
o This investment will ensure newcomers, immigrants, and refugees will be supported through the long term settlement process and have equal access to gainful employment.
o This is especially of interest as it aligns with the provincial governments’ 2016 budget priority to provide additional funding to support the welcome and settlement of refugees in Ontario.

In addition, the increased investment in Veterans, Indigenous People, pensions, and infrastructure will go a long way to reduce poverty and build strong communities across Canada.
We will continue to advocate with community partners to ensure Peel gets their fair share within these announcements. We will also continue advocating for funding for 211 which will connect people to the right information and services; will strengthen Peel’s health and human services; and help residents to become more engaged with their communities.

About United Way of Peel Region

Established in 1967, United Way of Peel Region inspires people from all walks of life to come together to raise funds, volunteer and motivate policy and attitude changes that lead to the improvement of people’s quality of life in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. United Way’s community investment focus is to help individuals and families move from a life of poverty to one full of possibilities, to ensure all children have the opportunity to be all they can be, and to build strong communities. For more information on United Way’s work in the community visit:

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About the author

Patti Foley

Having spent 25 years in Bolton, Patti remains an advocate for Caledon. As a former Regional Councillor and a long-time community volunteer she is passionate about communicating information about its issues, news, events, people, non-profits and businesses.

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