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City councillors poised to extend lifeline to 800 vulnerable Hamilton families

If the city doesn't respond to the elimination of the Transitional Child Benefit, Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark predicts "overwhelmed" food banks and an increase in homelessness.
If the city doesn't respond to the elimination of the Transitional Child Benefit, Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark predicts "overwhelmed" food banks and an increase in homelessness. Hamilton Food Share / Facebook

The city is looking at options for helping vulnerable residents in the face of a program cut by the provincial government.

Members of Hamilton’s emergency and community services committee voted on Thursday to ask staff to outline the costs and other details of a temporary program, that would offset the loss of the Transition Child Benefit.

READ MORE: Ford government’s child benefit cut ‘doesn’t make any sense’: Hamilton anti-poverty advocate

Tom Cooper, Director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, has told committee members that the benefit provides $230 per month in short-term support to parents who are not yet eligible for other income support benefits such as the Canada Child Benefit and Ontario Child Benefit.

The Transition Child Benefit is being axed by the province, as of November 1.

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READ MORE: Feed Ontario report ranks Hamilton Centre riding 2nd highest for food bank usage

Cooper describes it as a “lifeline for basic necessities,” adding that about 800 families and 1,800 children in Hamilton are impacted, “87 per cent of those children, three years old or younger.”

Hamilton resident Jackie Caldwell has also addressed councillors, saying “$230 dollars doesn’t sound like much, but when it’s 20 per cent of your total monthly income.

“It is a life-changing amount.”

READ MORE: Hamilton’s mayor calls on Premier Doug Ford to ‘stop the surprises’ on budget cuts

If the city doesn’t respond, Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark predicts “overwhelmed” food banks and an increase in homelessness — “a month before Christmas.”

The elimination of the Transition Child Benefit follows an Ontario government review of social assistance programs, which Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives have said is designed to achieve “better outcomes for clients, reducing costs and administrative burden and ensuring social assistance programs are more accountable.”

WATCH: (April 4, 2019) Hamilton students take part in province-wide protest of proposed education changes

Hamilton students take part in province-wide protest of proposed education changes
Hamilton students take part in province-wide protest of proposed education changes