By Chris Marchand
The Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) says an ongoing review of the legislation governing District Social Services Administrations Boards across the province may not be asking the right questions if it’s seeking to improve and streamline the way services are delivered in Ontario.
Members of the board expressed their frustrations during last week’s monthly meeting in Dryden about how the challenges they often face in delivering services are beyond the scope of the review.
The Act was formed two decades ago with the formation of the Services Board across Ontario and KDSB Chief Administrative Officer Henry Wall says while the review is timely, it may be squandering an opportunity for more constructive consultation with the front line challenges of Ontario Works, social housing, child care and EMS, among others.
“Everyone agrees that the review is necessary,” said Wall. “It’s been 20 years and it’s time to look at the legislation to ensure DSSABs can meet the current needs of our communities — that its not a barrier to what we can do. Where our board is frustrated is that the issues that created the need for the review are no longer on the table for the review.”
The review has proven contentious across the province as some boards, such as Cochrane District in particular, struggle with apportionment formulas (which determine municipal levies according to property assessment) which has led to million dollar-plus spikes in levies for some towns while other communities see equal savings.
Wall says other frustrations include long-term debt restrictions for social housing that create different rules for borrowing than for EMS or other sectors under their purview.
Wall adds he’d like to see reporting streamlined to address a lack of coordination between various ministries and ministry programs that impact one another.
“The board wants to make it very clear of what the challenges are and what it deems to be absolutely necessary — a thorough and appropriate review of the act. That is to include things that were out of the scope of the review. And if the ministry is going to do a review and make amendments, that they do it with the future in mind — looking at the potential of DSSABs leading to better community development.”