Poor Suffer As City Balances Budget: CU Study

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This is a release from Carleton University:

Carleton University’s Centre for Urban Research and Education (CURE) has recently completed an analysis of the City of Ottawa’s budget trends showing that spending on social programs is lagging behind other budget items.

You can read the full report here: http://carleton.ca/cure/ resource-centre/cure-policy- briefs/

“Since 2009, Ottawa has had the first or second highest median income of any metropolitan region in Canada,” says Steve Pomeroy, senior research fellow at CURE. “In addition, Ottawa has the fourth-highest home prices, which gives it the benefit of a rich tax base to properly fund social programs.”

The analysis found disproportionately lower increases in Ottawa’s annual spending in the area of social services and support to vulnerable populations.

“Ottawa’s citizens actively engage in local fundraising campaigns and are generous and caring,” said Pomeroy. “This is not being reflected in the municipal budget.”

Compared to spending in policing and protective services, parks and recreation and health, spending on community and social services is much lower and has increased at a slower rate, says the report. In relative spending and per capita terms, it has declined.  This is in spite of an increasing population and a demonstrated need from vulnerable individuals, as indicated by the number of families seeking income assistance.


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10 thoughts on “Poor Suffer As City Balances Budget: CU Study

  1. So there’s that good ole finger on the pulse of the city coming into play.

    To some, I guess, some people’s pulses aren’t quite as important. Sure the money has to be spread around but it is alarming when “..spending on community and social services is much lower AND has increased at a SLOWER rate.” “In relative spending and per capita terms, it has DECLINED.”

    A society that doesn’t look after it’s most vulnerable members is not a society at all. It is merely a group of people living in the same area.

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      1. Chaz,

        Yes, good points.

        This analysis sadly comes as little surprise. For example, one can recall during the last city budget, Councillor Diane Deans put forth a request to transfer $250,000 from a reserve account to help community groups and social service agencies from across the city meet additional service demands in 2016. As reported in The Ottawa Citizen:

        “Watson ruled the motion out of order because Deans didn’t provide a corresponding offset, in keeping with council’s pre-approved rules governing the budget process. She later told the Citizen the move was ‘a little mean-spirited’ because she had worked with Watson’s chief of staff Serge Arpin and the finance department, and says she was told the reserve fund was the best place to get the money. …. Her next choice for offsetting the $250,000 was to cut the equivalent of three jobs. After a lengthy debate, this, too, was voted down by her fellow councillors, many of whom noted it was unclear where these jobs would come from and how cutting them might affect services.”

        It should be noted that this same budget called for the city’s workforce to be reduced by 50 full-time equivalent positions. And that: “Only some of the positions slated for elimination had been identified in time for council’s final budget vote.”

        It would appear that Mayor Jim Watson has better things to concern himself with than the poor state of social services, namely things like his re-election campaign.

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        1. Sheridan:

          And where was Mayor Jim Watson’s offset for the $42-million operating deficit?

          Now he wants to blow $2 billion (with a B) on a useless truck tunnel and yet quibbles over $250,000.

          Mean-spirited? That’s just one of a number of adjectives you could use to describe the rejected $250,000.

          cheers

          kgray

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  2. It has been quite some time since I built a house, but acting as my own general contractor I am pretty sure I could build 10,000 plus houses for $1 billion.
    Hum, I wonder where that billion could come from.

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    1. Depending on the size of the unit, social housing providers can build townhouse or apartment complexes for between $120,000 and $200,000 per door so your billion dollars would build somewhere between 5,000 and 8,300 homes. If you were building handicapped-accessible units or supportive housing, the cost is a bit higher but your point is bang on.
      Given the choice of a truck tunnel, an over-priced LRT or thousands of homes, my money’s on Ottawa’s residents going for the homes. The money going towards the 2017 party could provide dozens of families with a permanent home instead of a few days of fun.

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      1. The Voter,
        “The money going towards the 2017 party could provide dozens of families with a permanent home instead of a few days of fun.”

        Yes, that would make for an excellent 2017 legacy project. One that is very “Canadian” and which we all could be proud to celebrate. Indeed, I am certain that our corporate sponsors for Ottawa 2017 would likewise have participated in such a community-building project.

        Alas, Mayor Jim Watson only promises to leave us with a party hangover and memories of a sodded bridge.

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        1. The comparison with 1967 is glaring – there are dozens of legacy projects still around from arenas and swimming pools to parks. On January 1st, 2018, there will be very little that can be pointed out as permanent investments to mark the 150th. Which is a shame.

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