Anti-poverty advocates concerned about Hamilton budget in wake of provincial changes

Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli presents the 2019 budget as Premier Doug Ford looks on at the legislature in Toronto on Thursday, April 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Local anti-poverty advocates are concerned about how Hamilton’s most vulnerable citizens will be impacted by the recent changes to cost-sharing agreements between the provincial government and municipalities.

A total of $8.8 million has been removed from Hamilton’s 2019 operating budget as a result of these changes, affecting child-care subsidies, social services, public health and ambulance services.

READ MORE: New estimate says provincial changes chop Hamilton’s funding by $8.8 million

Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, appeared on Global News Radio CHML’s Bill Kelly Show to discuss his group’s worries about how Hamiltonians will bear the burden of those costs.

“Cities can’t tax directly, except through property taxes,” said Cooper. “And if that’s the only way we’re raising revenue, it creates a significant problem if you’re in a community where there’s significant income disparity.”

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He pointed to Hamilton’s higher levels of poverty and higher senior population in comparison to other Ontario municipalities.

READ MORE: Ontario budget creates uncertainty for Hamilton child care, public health programs

“We know Hamiltonians are already at their max in terms of being able to afford property tax increases. But Hamiltonians are generous as well, and given the choice, I think they will make a decision to maintain some of these programs that keep people safe, keep people healthy.”

A forum will be held at New Vision United Church on Friday morning to discuss how the community can help Hamilton’s marginalized residents in light of the provincial budget cuts.

Ontario Budget 2019: Community Impact, Community Response

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Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction
Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

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