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COVID-19: Ontario provides $1.9M to Peterborough, City of Kawartha Lakes emergency shelter systems

The province is providing additional funding to emergency shelters in Peterborough and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Global News Peterborough file

The City of Peterborough and the City of Kawartha Lakes emergency shelter systems are each receiving about $1.9 million from the Ontario government to help address homelessness during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith says the $1,905,369 will help the city respond to any COVID-19-related issues that may occur in emergency shelters, such as cases that may require people to transfer to ensure proper social distancing.

In the spring of 2020, the City of Peterborough used the Peterborough Sport and Wellness Centre as a temporary emergency shelter due to limited spacing at its downtown shelters.

“In almost a year, the Social Services Relief Fund alone has provided just under $6 million to the City of Peterborough,” said Smith.

“We will continue to build affordable housing units, support rental supplements, expand shelter space and prevent homelessness in Peterborough. This is another example of our government’s fight against homelessness and our effort to address the housing challenges in our community. Every new affordable unit is a new home for our working-class families; it’s another opportunity for a family to access a better future.”

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Read more: COVID-19 — Pandemic highlights need to address homelessness in Peterborough

Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott says $1,981,681 will help the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County emergency shelter systems.

The City of Kawartha Lakes service manager is responsible for the administration of social services programs in the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County.

Scott says the City of Kawartha Lakes has received $5,944,630 for all three phases of the Social Services Relief Fund to support local vulnerable populations during COVID-19.

“This new additional funding of $1,981,681 will continue to support and protect homeless shelter residents and staff while helping prevent more people from becoming homeless,” Scott said. “We are working closer than ever with our community partners to ensure they have the resources and space to help keep people safe during these difficult times.”

Hope Lee, the City of Kawartha Lakes’ manager of human services (housing), says the funding is appreciated and needed as the pandemic continues.

“This additional SSRF funding will provide us with the means to assist the most vulnerable in our community, particularly those that find themselves without a home,” Lee said.

The funding is part of Wednesday’s announcement from the province for an additional $255 million through the Social Services Relief Fund. The province says municipalities can use the funding to access motel or hotel spaces to physically distance residents, hire more shelter staff, purchase personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies and invest in affordable housing and add to rent and utility banks to help prevent more people from becoming homeless.

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“Our government is once again taking immediate action to save lives by responding to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in some emergency shelters across the province,” stated Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “This investment will ensure our municipal service managers can keep vulnerable people and shelter workers safe by providing them with the financial ability to take any means necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 in shelter spaces.”

Under the Social Services Relief Fund, Ontario has provided $765 million to help service managers and Indigenous program partners support shelters, create longer-term housing solutions and help vulnerable residents affected by the pandemic.

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