Welfare board seeing added costs

Costs will be divvied up throughout the district as Rainy River District Ontario Works takes over management of child care, social housing, Family Benefits Allowance, and Ontario Works.
And that means some municipalities will be billed for child care even if they don’t have day cares, toy libraries, and resource centres available in their own community.
Linda Lunny, program manager with the Ministry of Community and Social Services office in Kenora, said the province will fund 80 percent of the five core child care resources–special needs resources, wage subsidies, approved corporations, resource centres, and direct operations.
But the ministry will flow 100 percent of the funding to those facilities. It will recover the 20 percent municipal portion from the general welfare assistance funds it flows to the district welfare boards on a monthly basis.
“So it’s like a claims recovery process. It’s the only means of recovery we have,” Lunny explained yesterday, noting once the district had an Area Services Board or a District Social Services Administration Board up and running, that would take over management of those services.
While her office gave municipalities figures (La Vallee was told it would be paying $4,000 to its child care centre, Morley $1,000 for its toy library, and Emo $8,800 for its toy library), she stressed the ministry would not be sending those bills.
“That’s for their information but the bill actually was claimed back through the district welfare board. The bill is going to the district welfare board and they will proportion it out,” Lunny said.
Dave Kozar, director of the Rainy River District Ontario Works office here, said that cost would be recovered through equalized assessment. And that means all district municipalities will be billed for the cost.
“That’s the only way that we, as a district board, can collect money,” he said Monday.
Kozar explained that under legislation, the board can only send out equalized assessment bills to every municipality in the district. That means for now unincorporated areas won’t see bills for the services.
“They’re not being touched yet,” he said, with the province picking up the tab until legislation passes giving the district municipalities taxing authority for those services.
In theory, though, those communities without any day cares, toy libraries, or resource centres should be able to access facilities in other municipalities.
For those who have been paying for child care, such as Fort Frances, the child care bill should go down, he added.
But with the new services, Kozar admitted there will be a big jump in the bill municipalities receive from the Rainy River District Ontario Works.
“I have a rough idea [how much] but I don’t want to say right now,” he revealed, explaining the board still had to pass its 1998 budget.
In 1997, it billed district municipalities $744,000. That covered 20 percent of the GWA, the only service the then Rainy River District Social Services Board managed.
But even though the bill is expected to come in much higher, Kozar didn’t anticipate problems collecting from the municipalities. He said the board had been in close contact with all the councils to let them know what was happening.
“And they know they’re going to get a higher bill,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kozar was hopeful the district Ontario Works office would be able to handle the added responsibility, adding it was hoping to pick up Family Benefits staff.
And he felt if needed, it could be converted to a DSSAB.
“There’s not a whole lot extra we’d have to do to make this a DSSAB,” he explained, adding they would need to add staff, including a parental support worker.