Thunder Bay Superior North MPP Lise Vaugeois is calling on the Ford Government to help fund street outreach programs here in the city as the nights begin to get colder.
This comes following a report from the Financial Accountability Office, which shows the government has 44 billion dollars sitting in contingencies. The 2022 Fall Economic and Budget outlook forecasts shortfalls across several programs for the next six years, including:
- $23 billion shortfall in health
- $6 billion in education
- $4 billion in children, community, and social services
- $2.6 billion in post-secondary funding
- $2.3 billion in justice
With that in mind, Vaugeois says that information gives her “another arrow in her quiver” to advocate for funding.
“I know there is money available, so this needs to be a priority, and its really not that much money.”
According to Vaugeois the PC’s are aware of the situation, and have met and spoken with officials from the District Social Services Administration Board, but to date have not offered any money.
One of the responses to Vaugeois’ questions came from Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo, who claimed he was in Thunder Bay the previous week and spoke with officials from Shelter House and the SOS program during an event. He stated the program was an important part of “the continuum of care not just in Thunder Bay but around the province in all rural remote communities and the cities.”
Vaugeois believes the government is trying to reframe the situation around housing.
“But the reality is we don’t have time to wait,” she says as more and more nighttime temperatures sink into the minus, “a comprehensive policy platform that’s beautiful but, it doesn’t help people on the street right now.” adding Shelter House lacks the capacity for the city’s vulnerable population, and there isn’t enough detox beds.
She plans to keep raising the issue in the Legislature and says it is unacceptable if members of the city’s homeless population freeze to death as a result of inaction by the government.
“I’m not willing to wait until somebody dies.”