Mr. Wayne Gates: I spent the entire summer, day in and day out, meeting with every community group in my community that wanted to meet. Sometimes it was at my office; other times it was at places where they serve Niagara’s most in need.
I toured Project Share’s food banks and Nova House women’s shelter. I met with our local social assistance workers in their own offices. I did this because in my riding it’s clear that there are people who need help.
Niagara has been hit hard by the economic downturn. People, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs. Some of them needed, and still continue to need, a helping hand up. However, what I hear from these community groups was exactly the same: Since 2008, the need has gone up but the funding has gone down.
Shelter beds are full; I’ve seen it. Our local women’s shelter is filled with children and women to its capacity. Food banks are running empty. Transit vouchers are being eliminated. When people have their gas or electricity turned off, they have nowhere to go.
The community groups in my riding are unanimous. Niagara is a large region. We don’t want special treatment-only the funding that the region deserves based on its size. Hamilton’s population is roughly the same as Niagara’s, yet Niagara receives around 20% of the funding that Hamilton does.
I hope the Premier and the government will take the social needs of Niagara into consideration when they implement their budget.