Social issues at County Council

Municipality Matters

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by Mayor David Gordon

Committee of the Whole at County had a presentation by Jim Millar, Chair of Sherwood Park Manor Long Term Care Home. Sherwood Manor is a full-service, non-profit Nursing Home with 107 beds. Mr. Millar was asking for $100,000 to help with their badly needed renovations (the roof, for example). The Manor had an operating deficit of $70,000 last year, which it tried to cover through private fundraising and charitable contributions.

Sherwood Manor also has a debt of approximately $3.3 million dollars. Mr. Millar said that the problem with finances is the level of provincial funding they receive. For example, the provincial government allocates $9 a day, per resident, for food, and out of the $9 the staff must meet all the various special needs of residents, such as diabetic and gluten-free diets.

The County is facing a dilemma: if Sherwood Manor closes, there is a very strong possibility that the County would lose 107 provincial senior beds. Every County and large municipality is fighting for more provincially-allotted senior beds, and the province is not increasing the number senior beds in Ontario.

This problem is not new for long term care homes; I sit on the counties two Long-term Care Committees, and, when it comes to finances, we are battling the same fight. The lack of provincial funding makes it very difficult to operate senior homes at a high standard. The major problem is that Ontario is becoming a population of seniors with special needs and, a lot of times, with no place to go. The Province is not keeping up with their responsibilities. Seniors deserve better.

The Council had lengthy discussions on the Ontario Early Years Child and Family needs assessment, and initial plans for Leeds and Grenville. The County is the delivery agent for the Ontario Early Years Children in Leeds and Grenville. Needs assessment highlights: There are a total of 5,955 children aged 0-6 living in Leeds and Grenville. The highest concentration of young children reside in the City of Brockville and the Municipality of North Grenville. 1.1 % speak French, or French and English, in the home. North Grenville (970) and Merrickville-Wolford (170) have the greatest number of Francophone residents.

The proportion of births to younger mothers is greater in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark than provincially. Incidence of low birth weight is similar to provincial figures. Newborn and pregnancy health indicators emphasize the need for continued pre-and post-natal education and supports.

The Early Development Instrument measures children’s development readiness in five areas: physical health, social competence, emotional health, language and cognition, and communication skills. “Vulnerable” is defined as children who score below the ten percentile of the comparison population in any one area. The proportion of vulnerable children increased from 26.5 % in 2011 to 30.5% today, with the largest increase occurring in the physical health and wellbeing domain.

Poverty is a reality for some families, particularly lone parent families. Unemployment, precarious employment, lower-than-average educational attainment, and economies increasingly reliant on lower-paying employment, limit opportunities for families to improve their economic security. With 741 child care spaces for preschool aged children, there is licenced capacity for only 18% of young children in Leeds and Grenville, compared to 20% provincially. Child and family programs provide early learning opportunities to families without a need for child care.

The County reached out to parent groups and parents for input. 312 parent surveys were completed and 52 parents participated in focus groups. An additional 52 parents participated in focus groups. Those that were familiar with and/or already accessing OEYC programs had very positive feedback about their experience and benefits of OEYC participation. High interest was expressed in programs that involve physical activity, music, outdoors, literacy and creative play learning opportunities. Parents value education and information about early child development and socialization opportunities for their children and themselves most highly. They also expressed a strong preference for additional open hours including evening and weekends.

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