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The Sky is the Limit
April 26, 2013 permalink
Ontario will cover overspending by Waterloo CAS with a supplemental appropriation. For child protectors, overspending the budget works every time. It faces the legislature with the dilemma of spending more or letting foster kids go without food and shelter. Pat Niagara is so incensed he posted a commentary and a second cartoon.
Ontario will pay agency’s $848,000 debt
WATERLOO REGION — The financial woes that have plagued Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region have been laid to rest by the provincial government.
The agency’s board learned Thursday that the province will fund the organization’s longtime debt of $848,000. This comes in the same month the province announced it will wipe out the group’s deficit of $3.1 million for the fiscal year ending in March.
“Its great news,” said Alison Scott, the agency’s executive director.
Last year was especially difficult for this agency, which had to close two group homes and eliminate the equivalent of 32 positions because of a record deficit.
This year should be less stressful for the agency, Scott said, even though the government’s funding allocation of $48.6 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year is about $1.2 million less than last year.
“I think we are going to have enough money,” Scott said. “The new allocation we are getting looks like we should balance.”
Earlier this year, the agency was audited by the province to help it to become more efficient.
A draft report detailing the results of that audit was considered by the agency’s board in a closed meeting Thursday.
Scott declined to discuss the report until it becomes final next month.
“It is not a bad report. … There are still some things we can improve,” she said.
The ministry audit is not connected to the funding, she said.
Scott said the cuts made last year will help the agency live within its budget.
“So if we had not made the cuts that we made last year, we would be facing a significant deficit moving forward this year,” said Scott, adding she doesn’t anticipate any more service cuts or layoffs.
She said the ministry recognized that current and past deficits needed to be addressed before child-welfare agencies could move forward under its new funding model.
“We start with a clean slate,” Scott said.
The new funding formula is based on local child populations and social-economic factors such as low-income rates and the number of single-parent families, she said.
“We are a growing child population agency which is good for us,” she said.
Scott said she anticipates a better year financially for the agency.
“I tell you it is a night-and-day scenario for me. It is looking much better. It was pretty tough last year, but this year is better.”
John Milloy, Kitchener Centre MPP and Liberal house leader, said the aim of the new funding formula is to get child-welfare agencies on “sounder financial footing.”
He said agencies will know their funding for the next three years to allow for better planning and agencies will be able to access any surpluses to help in leaner years.
“This is very much about starting fresh and putting everyone on a sustainable footing,” he said.
Source: Kitchener/Waterloo Record