Currently the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board (DSSMSSAB) is responsible for ensuring the delivery of four mandated programs. These include the Ontario Works program, Community Child Care, Social Housing and Emergency Medical Services (Land Ambulance). All of these programs have been downloaded from the provincial government over the past four years.
The DSSMSSAB contracts with the City of Sault Ste. Marie to deliver all components of the Ontario Works program. The Ontario Works program provides financial assistance to those individuals and families in financial need. They also provide support and assistance to those clients in meeting the Ontario Works Act requirements to participate in seeking employment, basic education, volunteer work or self-employment. Only those sole support parents with children under school age are exempt from having to participate in employment oriented programming. Specialized programming is available for youth with children called Learning, Earning and Parenting.
New technology to improve Ontario Works service delivery has been introduced and implemented over the last two years across the province. This includes a new intake telephone screening process for new applications to Ontario Works.
The Ontario Works Department has also become actively involved in community development and in developing community partnerships through their employment program as well as through their special services program. They have recently become involved in a leadership position to administer and coordinate the Community Plan on Homelessness. Funding is also distributed to a variety of community agencies through the National Child Benefit Supplement to support programs that enhance child and family development for families experiencing poverty.
Ontario Works is legislated under the Ontario Works Act, Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Community Child Care
The DSSMSSAB contracts with the City of Sault Ste. Marie to manage the Child Care System. There are currently 12 Day Care Centres and Ontario Early Years Family Resource Centres that receive funding. This funding is administered through service agreements between the DSSMSSAB and the Child Care service providers. Child Care subsidies are made available for over 400 subsidized spaces with the Child Care programs. Low income families apply thorough the Community Child Care Department with the City of Sault Ste. Marie for these child care spaces. Staff work to ensure the coordination of Child Care services for Ontario Works recipients to support their participation in education, employment or volunteer work.
These programs are legislated under the Day Nurseries Act, Ministry of Children & Youth Services.
The DSSMSSAB became responsible for Social Housing on January 1, 2001. Social Housing programs were downloaded in two phases and consists of two related, but differing components.
The Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation: In the Sault Ste. Marie area, the Algoma District Housing Authority which was administered by the Ontario Housing Corporation was split into two separate corporations to align with the DSSMSSAB and the Algoma District Services Administration Board. On January 1, 2001, the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation was created as a stand-alone corporation. The ownership of public housing stock property and responsibility for administration and management of this property were transferred to the Corporation and 100% of the shares of this corporation were transferred to the DSSMSSAB. There are 755 social housing units belonging to the corporation. The corporation also administers approximately 430 Commercial Rent Supplement Units.
As with other programs, the DSSMSSAB contracts with the City of Sault Ste. Marie to provide property management services for the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation. The members of the DSSMSSAB have been appointed to serve as the Board of Directors of the Sault Ste Marie Housing Corporation.
Rent Supplement Program: The Housing Division, through the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation also has access to 480 private-sector rental units by virtue of agreements with private landlords in the City. Tenants for these units are allocated from the centralized application and wait list, and pay rent geared to their income directly to the their (private-sector) landlord. The landlord receives, as a subsidy payment from the Housing Corporation, the difference between the tenant geared-to-income rent and the full Market Rent for the unit.
Administration of Non-Profit Housing Portfolio: The DSSMSSAB has contracted with the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Housing Programs Division, to administer service contracts with 21 social housing providers, including the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation. The social housing providers include provincial housing cooperatives, non-profit organizations (which sponsor housing facilities), urban native housing projects and federally funded housing programs. The Housing Programs Division monitors property management functions and activities of the housing providers ensuring compliance with the Social Housing Reform Act and Regulations, the Tenant Protection Act and other relevant legislation. Annual operating budgets, yearly reconciliations & capital reserve requests are reviewed and approved by the Housing Programs Division in accordance with appropriate program guidelines, procedures, provincial legislation DSSMSSAB policies and directives. The division is also responsible to ensure non-profit housing providers, in accordance with their mandates, provide housing to persons that qualify for rent geared to income units, persons with special needs and individuals able to pay market rent. In addition to the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation's own 755 units, there are 480 rent supplement units with private landlords under agreements with the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation and 1005 non-profit units in the DSSMSSAB area.
Coordinated Access: In order to provide social housing to those most in need, the DSSMSSAB is responsible for the administration of a centralized application and eligibility determination process, for those with low and limited incomes to access social housing. The DSSMSSAB contracts with the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Social Housing Division, to manage and operate this function. Linkages have been established with the Ontario Works Division, Social Services Department for tenants at the time of application, while on the wait list and during the period of residency. This helps ensure that tenants in Social Housing are eligible and that all sources of income are secured. All provincially funded social housing providers, including the local housing corporation, must utilize this centralized application and wait list to fill their respective rent geared to income units.
These programs are legislated by the Social Housing Reform Act, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Land Ambulance Emergency Medical Services
On January 1, 2001, the DSSMSSAB became responsible for the delivery of Land Ambulance, Emergency Medical Services for our area. The DSSMSSAB became the Designated Delivery Agent under the Ambulance Act in March 2000. The DSSMSSAB contracted with the Sault Area Hospitals, (the provider under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) for one year. During 2001, the DSSMSSAB held a Request for Proposals process. Subsequently, the City of Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services were awarded a three-year contract to deliver the service. Fire Services, EMS Division became the provider of Land Ambulance Services on April 1, 2002.
The DSSMSSAB owns eight fully operational ambulances and one Emergency Support Unit as well as a variety of medical and non-medical equipment that were transferred as part of the downloading.
The DSSMSSAB also has agreements in place with Volunteer Fire Departments in Prince Township and communities in the Unincorporated Townships in the Sault North Planning Board Area to provide Medical First Responder programs.
This program is legislated under the Ambulance Act, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Paying the DSSAB portion of the costs
At the present time, the City of Sault Ste. Marie and Prince Township are paying their portion of the DSSMSSAB costs through their municipal taxes. In the unincorporated areas to the provincial government is collecting and paying their share of the costs. In the unincorporated areas, there has been a structure in place to collect education taxes provincially. This same structure has been used to collect a levy from residents for provincial services in general including those provided by the local DSSABs. The DSSAB has no authority to collect from the unincorporated area. Any questions regarding Provincial Land Tax Reform should be directed to the the Ministry of Finance by calling toll free 1-800-263-7965 as they are responsible for the Provincial Land Tax Act.