Guelph committee feeling pinch for information

County coun­cillors heard on March 25 that Guelph council’s new social services and housing committee wants information – as well as for county social servic­es staff to attend its meet­ing.

The city’s Director of In­formation Lois Giles wrote to county Deputy-Clerk Nicole Cardow on Feb. 22 and asked for information about social services issues.

The county and the city operated a joint committee for social services for many years. That changed earlier this year when the city decided to detach itself from the joint committee in favour of one of its own.

The problem for the city is the county has provincially mandated control over social services, including its employ­ees and Guelph is acting outside the provincial mandate with its separate committee.

Giles wrote she was instruc­ted at the city’s social ser­vices and housing commit­tee to con­tact the county to ask for the following information:

– the continuity schedule for the one-time funding and ongoing investment fund for the best start operating reserve and best start capital reserve;

– the status and the business case for the new child care cen­tre and administration centre for child care services proposed in 2012;

– the proposed increase in muni­cipal costs to cover ex­penses for the Citizenship and Immigration Canada contract and the one time enhanced em­ployment services programs, which will not be renewed in 2011;

– the list of various locations referred to in the county report 2009 Social Housing Reno­vation and Retrofit Pro­gramme – Amended Take-up Plan dated Jan. 13, 2010; and

– a breakdown of the 2008 social housing capital repair fund re-allocation of $1,295,262.

Finally, Giles wrote, “The next meeting of the committee will be held [March 15 at 3pm] and I would like to extend an invitation to you and other representatives of the county to attend the meeting in the interests of com­munication and informa­tion shar­ing.”

That did not happen. War­den Joanne Ross-Zuj has said county staff are busy enough without having to report to a second committee.

At the county council meeting, so­cial services chairman Gord Tosh said, “This information was formerly available to the city when they were part of the joint committee.”

He added the city is seeking information on “normal, day-to-day issues.”

Guelph had unilaterally left the joint committee and formed its own. County officials warn­ed then that county staff would report to only one meeting.

The city and county have been at odds over social services spending. The city took the county to arbitration to attempt to have the cost-sharing agreement changed, and lost at that hearing. Before the verdict was announced, the city created its own social services committee.

Tosh said as far as he is concerned, “This should con­tinue as it was before. It is normal day-to-day issues.”

The county recommen­da­tion was to send the issue to the joint social services committee – where, for now, only county councillors are attending.

Councillor Chris White said, “It’s still the same com­mittee”

Tosh added, “I don’t think the name’s even been chang­ed.”