Social services statistics for the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) are out for the final six months of 2021 and the number of people using Ontario Works (welfare) across the counties showed a decrease from 2020 levels. However, the use of social housing – as well as the waiting lists for social housing – varied between 2021 and 2020.
The UCPR’s Social Services Department administers the Ontario Works, Early Years, and social housing programs locally, on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services.
In December 2021, the total Ontario Works caseload for the UCPR was 1,246 individuals. In December 2020, the total caseload was 1,315 individuals.
UCPR Director of Social Services Sylvie Millette said the dollars used for Ontario Works are not from a specific fund, but are provided by the provincial government as required for administration by the regional government.
The use of Early Years childcare services among UCPR residents also decreased slightly from the previous year. There were 559 individual children receiving Early Years services in December 2021, and there had been 565 individual children receiving the services in December 2020. In December 2021, 508 UCPR families were using Early Years services, a decrease from 516 families in December 2020. There was no waiting list for Early Years services in either year.
The total number of UCPR residents in social housing increased from 721 in December of 2020, to 739 in December of 2021. In December 2020, 566 residents were living in family social housing units and 155 residents were living in senior citizen housing units. As of December 2021, 152 residents were living in senior citizen housing units and 587 residents were living in family social housing units.
The waiting list for public housing among UCPR residents increased to 1,144 residents in December 2021, from 1,108 residents in December 2020. However, the non-profit housing waiting list decreased from 1,321 residents in December 2020, to 1,313 residents in December 2021.
The UCPR also administers the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) from the United Way. It offers one-time, emergency assistance with electricity and/or gas bill payments, based on income. The Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI), through Ontario Works, also provides moving assistance, based on financial need.