About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Mayoral Rebuttal

So this was sent out over the interweb yesterday, an official statement from the Mayor's office in regards to that arbitrator's ruling on Tuesday as to the how social services costs are split between the City of Guelph and Wellington County.

The City and County went to arbitration, at the City’s request, to settle on a new method for dividing the costs of soical services and ambulances. As it stands now, the county runs soical services for both Gueplph and Wellington, while the city does the same for ambulances. The City was arguing though that funds should be assigned according to tax assessment rather than caseload, a funding formula that would obviously favour Guelph. The County, meanwhile wanted per-call billing for ambulance services.

The decision by Toronto-based arbitrator Douglas Colbourne effectively keeps the status quo, but looming now is the fallout of council's decision to dissolve the joint City/County committee on ambulance services and pulling out of the social services committee. Of course what's driving this tug-of-war is the all mighty dollar. Money. More specifically budgets, which have not only shrunk given recent economic conditions, but those conditions have also seen people lean on social services a lot more.

Count this in the far from over category. Here's the full statement from the Mayor's office:

"Earlier today the City and the County received Arbitrator Colbourne's decision relating to the apportionment of prescribed costs for Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program, child care, social housing, and land ambulance between the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington.

"Arbitrator Colbourne has ruled the method for apportioning costs for Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program will be based on the residence of recipients, which is how costs are currently apportioned; the method for apportioning child care costs will be based on the residence of recipients for fee subsidy and special needs resourcing, and based on the location of the centre for wage subsidy, which is how costs are currently apportioned; the method for apportioning costs for social housing will be based on the prior residence of tenants, a departure from the current 75/25 split; and the method for apportioning land ambulance average call cost will be based on location of calls for four call codes, another departure from the current method of splitting costs based on population.

"We are disappointed with the decision. While we need time to understand the full implications, at this time the ruling raises more questions than answers.

"With respect to accountability and transparency for Guelph taxpayers, our concern is the situation is now worse; it's not premature to say this will be a key task for Guelph's new social services committee, the striking of which was approved by City Council last night.

"Some of the points in the ruling are in contradiction with the recent findings of the Auditor General, as outlined in his December 2009 annual report—an obvious point of concern.

"With respect to land ambulance, we do not understand why Guelph/Wellington has now become the only region in Ontario that shares costs based on location of call, which will increase administrative costs for both the City and the County.

"While the City is disappointed with the decision, we feel the process has revealed important information with respect to the breakdown of discretionary versus mandatory services provided by the County, and how Guelph taxpayers' money is spent."

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