Provision of Cochrane District DSSAB Services at Risk
As a result of a proposed formula change to how municipalities share costs for social services in the Cochrane District, the effective provision of those services have been destabilized and placed at risk.
On March 16, 2017 an initiative driven by the City of Timmins to change how District Social Services in Cochrane District would share costs for services was concluded. The result being that while the proposed formula reduces the share of costs for all municipalities, including the Timmins (who proportionally realize the lions share of the manufactured rebates), the entire cost of paying for this would be forced upon the communities of Cochrane, Kapuskasing and Hearst – to the tune of $350,000, $1.2 million and $450,000 respectively. For perspective, if the roles were reversed, the reciprocal impact on the City of Timmins municipal budget, of such a forced demand, would be equivalent to just under $20 million dollars.
We believe both the process by which this proposed change was conducted and the proposed formula itself, circumvent many of the legal requirements they are regulated by. The proposed formula consists of unsubstantiated, hand-picked factors and categories, arbitrarily chosen by the City of Timmins who stand to gain a $1.1 rebate as a result. In reality, it’s our view that the process and formula have much less to do with fairness and advancing district social services, as they do with maneuvering a favourable vote for those who stand to gain by them, at the expense of others. In fact, it has been argued that our smaller regional neighbours represented on the DSSAB have effectively been “bought", under the guise of a formula that reduces their contribution for the sole purpose of providing Timmins with the majority that it seeks to reallocate the costs for provincially mandated DSSAB services.
The default formula identified in the DSSAB Act, which has been used for seventeen years to apportion cost sharing fairly, is the same formula everyone has, that provides the same criteria equally, ensuring we all pay our fair share. The outcome of implementing the proposed new formula, that applies criteria differently and arbitrarily, creates an imbalance of fairness in how costs are shared, while expressly linking tax levies to service usage which the province has identified is not the intention of the DSSAB Act.
In a letter from our three municipalities (attached) sent on April 12, 2017 to Minister Jaczek, of Community and Social Services, we have formally identified that the magnitude of the proposed formula’s forced demand is well beyond our municipalities reasonable means to pay. We also clarified the rational behind why we don’t validate the proposed formula and challenge its legitimacy as an acceptable alternative to the default apportionment formula in the DSSAB Act. By virtue of this, we have identified that the ability for the CDSSAB to provide social services to the people of Northern Ontario it represents, is not only destabilized by the proposed formula, but that the provision of these services, absent the provinces intervention, is at risk.
As part of the next steps, we will be exploring all options available to us that will help bring this matter to a more appropriate conclusion.
Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis stated, “While our community understands the need to possibly review and evolve DSSAB governance at large, as our proportion of costs has gone up more than any other member municipality (including Timmins), we have vehemently opposed the approach taken by Timmins which involves placing the responsibility of the desired outcome squarely on the backs of their fellow municipal and regional partners. Our hope would have been to develop an intelligent, well researched plan that we would as a region and DSSAB, effectively present together to the province instead, where the responsibility for this actually lies.”