OPINION: The missing money

Nick Seebruch
OPINION: The missing money
Doug Ford answering a reporter's question during a campaign stop at the Ramada Inn on Tuesday

With the municipal election now firmly in the rear-view mirror I wanted to take a moment to shift focus to provincial politics.

If Doug Ford’s new Conservative government has been anything, then it is busy.

Since the Ford government came to power five months ago we have seen the cancellation of the GreenON subsidy program, a change in the sex ed curriculum, a fight with Toronto City Council and now, just five months after being elected we’ve seen our first cabinet shuffle.

None of these decisions directly affect many of our local readers however, but there has been a change in the way that local non-profits are funded that has affected at least one important local organization.

Some of you may have seen earlier this week Cornwall Seaway News published on our website a story by our Reporter Shawna O’Neill about how Sexual Assault Support Services for Women (SASS) is still waiting on $93,000 from the provincial Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG). SASS was expecting this money in April, but they have still yet to receive it and worse yet, they say that MAG has stopped returning their calls and emails about the matter.

SASS has seen 363 clients in Cornwall, SD&G and Akwesasne in the past three months. Part of the money there were expecting to receive would have been used to help with that backlog, while some of it would be used to hire a male councillor to work with male sexual assault survivors.

SASS was awarded the money through a $14.8 million fund established by the Wynne Liberals to increase the budgets of sexual assault support organizations by 33 percent over three years.

I reached out to MPP Jim McDonell, who told me that he had taken this issue to the Ministry himself. McDonell said that the previous government had made a lot of promises without considering the Treasury’s ability to pay. He said that MAG was reviewing a list of priorities and hoped that there would still be space for the money promised to SASS. If I receive a comment from MAG, I will include it here on this page next week.

My opinion and my belief about this situation is that the Ford government is seeking to undo the legacy of the Kathleen Wynne, while also cutting costs. I think that the Ford government will want to deliver on its promise to cut costs, but I don’t think that should come at the expense of important community organizations like SASS.

I believe that taxpayer money should always be spent wisely, and review of expenditures is the best way to do this, but that needs to happen in a timely manner. The government must deliver promised funds on schedule because local organizations rely on this funding and not having it puts them and their community into a bind.

The demand for organizations like SASS is going up, not down, and when they suffer financially, the community suffers. Local non-profits like SASS have a major impact on the lives of people living in Cornwall.

What do you think readers? Should SASS be given the money it was promised no questions asked? Or is it time to review provincial funding for community organizations more closely? Email me a Letter to the Editor at nicholas.seebruch@tc.tc

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