2024 Budget Highlights: Cuts to discretionary benefits

The City of Peterborough is in the process of finalizing the 2024 Budget. Image from the City's 2024 Budget Highlights Book.
Edward Sweeney - CFFF - PeterboroughON | 24-11-2023
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In this week’s Budget Committee meeting, Peterborough City Councillors examined the City’s proposed 2024 Budget. A significant change to this year’s budget was a decrease in the City’s contribution to Discretionary Benefits, down $150,000 from 2023.

Discretionary Benefits are funded through both the province and the municipality, and, according to the 2024 Draft Budget, “discretionary benefits cover items such as funeral, vision, dental, dentures, bus pass subsidy, prosthesis, and hearing aids.”

The provincial funding for Discretionary Benefits is capped at $10 per Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program case per month, with any costs above that being covered by the municipality. The 2024 Budget has allocated $235,695 to City Discretionary Benefits after the decrease from last year’s budget, which Community Services Commissioner Sheldon Laidman explains as a “calculated risk.”

“At this time, the usage of the benefits is at a point where we can get by with the amount of money given. However, there is a risk, higher case loads and other things, that we will run out of money at the end of the year.”

Coun. Keith Riel voiced disapproval of the reduction in funding for Discretionary Benefits:

“I will not be supporting cuts to Discretionary Benefits, off the backs of the working poor, the marginalized, or the homeless. I’m sorry.”

No motion was made to change the amount of funding allocated to City Discretionary Benefits, so they will continue with the proposed amount of $235,695.

Listen to the story below: