ESPANOLA – The Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB) has received several government funding announcements recently that will be used to pay a major portion of a Manitoulin Family Resources new build project, as well as mental health supports for transitional housing in the district and help those living with mental health and/or addictions issues.
“This summer, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) announced $362 million in new funding under the second phase of the Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF) phase two to help protect vulnerable people from COVID-19, bringing the government’s total SSRF investment to $510 million. This funding has helped service managers and Indigenous program administrators respond quickly, adapt services and help address housing and economic impacts from COVID-19 in their communities,” said Donna Stewart, director of integrated social services with DSB at a board meeting last week.
“To ensure SSRF phase two funding was targeted to where it was needed most, the ministry communicated that a portion of the total SSRF phase two funds would be held back to help communities that were disproportionately impacted by the effects of COVID-19 and had the capacity to commit the funding within the program timelines,” explained Ms. Stewart. She explained SSRF phase two builds on the support being delivered as part of the COVID-19 action plan to protect vulnerable Ontarians and will help Ontario safely restart its economy and become more resilient to future waves of COVID-19, which are key priorities of the federal funding under the Safe Restart agreement.
“For SSRF phase two, all service managers were provided with an initial planning allocation and the DSB was allocated $897,838. The SSRF phase two issue report indicated that the province held back 30 percent of the available $21 million in SSRF phase two funding which amounts to an additional $62 million.”
Ms. Stewart explained, “the total cost of the SSRF phase two business case of the violence against women shelter retrofit and new build for the food bank/thrift store for Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR) is $1,188,488. Since the DSB did not receive sufficient funding to cover the full project, MFR will be responsible to cover the shortfall of $290,650 and/or reduce the scope of work should the province not approve the full amount. In our business case for phase two funding, we identified this shortfall.”
Under the phase two business plan, DSB was also given the opportunity to ask for additional funding. “We indicated that we would also entertain the idea of transitional housing with support services should funding be available. The transitional housing with support services would include mental health and addictions supports as part of our business plan. Operating funding would be required for additional staff to help support the most vulnerable, depending on how many transitional housing units would be approved; the approximate operating costs would be $280,000 annually,” said Ms. Stewart.
She pointed out, “on December 15, 2020, the MMAH indicated DSB was approved for additional SSRF hold-back funding in the amount of $176,100.”
“The DSB submitted an investment plan that indicated the intention to use the additional $176,100 to fund part of the $290,650 shortfall for the MFR new build which was approved by the board in the September 2020 issue report,” continued Ms. Stewart. “This would leave a shortfall of $114,500 for the new build which MFR will be responsible to cover and/or reduce the scope of work.
On January 8, 2021 the CAO received a letter from MMAH advising that its additional funding request of $280,000 for mental health supports to support individuals in the transitional housing, said Ms. Stewart. In addition, on January 13, the board received a letter from the ministry that Ontario’s Ministry of Health has approved $10 million in one-time mental health and addictions funding for 2020-21 to be allocated to select service managers. The DSB was approved for an additional $224,947 to support those living with mental health and/or addictions issues. “DSB staff need to submit an investment plan for this funding and are in the process of determining where the need is in the DSB catchment area.”
The DSB board passed a motion on a recommendation from staff that the board approve the $176,100 to be used to support the shortfall that MFR had in the original SSRF phase two business case as submitted to the MMAH on September 11, 2020. DSB staff will continue to work with MFR to ensure that the new build of the food bank/thrift store progress according to schedule.
Staff are also recommending that the board approve the additional funding of $280,000 be used to support mental health supports for transitional housing in the Manitoulin-Sudbury District. And staff also recommended that the board approve the additional funding of $224,947 to support those living with mental health and/or addictions issues. Staff will work with local agencies to ensure that services are available across the entire DSB catchment area. The board passed motions in support of these two recommendations.