County votes to approve community, poverty reduction, food security funding in upcoming budget

A two story medium sized building with a worn brown brick facade with white four pillared portico. Municipal government offices.
Prince Edward County Shire Hall in March 2022. Photo by Alex Wright.
CJPE - 99.3 FM - CJPE - PictonON | 27-01-2023
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Prince Edward County council heard from various local organizations concerning community fitness and recreation, seniors active living, poverty reduction, and food insecurity on Jan. 24.

The Prince Edward Fitness and Aquatic Centre (PEFAC), still recovering from pandemic related membership and financial impacts, was able to secure the inclusion of a four year, $70,000 per year, tentative funding (subject to upcoming budget deliberations).

The Community Care for Seniors Association’s Senior’s Active Living Programs were also tentatively funded.

On the topic of poverty reduction in the county, the Prince Edward Learning Centre (PELC) reported the results of its local Financial Empowerment Program.

The program, which offers free financial literacy education, tax filing, and benefits screening/navigation to people in the community experiencing poverty and financial stress, reported, “61% of participants do not always have enough to eat, 69% do not have secure, affordable housing.”

As well, the program reported a total return on investment of over $3-million (with their calculation concerning financial insecurity costing up to 4.6 per cent of municipal budgets being assumed). Council tentatively approved their ask for $60,000 in funding.

Concerning food insecurity in the county, members of the County Food Collective reported that use of local food banks was up by 26 per cent in 2022. As well, youth in particular increasingly eating only once a day. The Food Collective claimed that these issues are being exasperated by rising cost of living and poor public policy-making at the provincial and federal level.

When time came to pass a motion to tentatively approve the groups’ request of $20,000 in annual municipal funding, Picton Coun. Kate MacNaughton proposed an increase to $30,000, given the seemingly worsening situation. However, it narrowly failed. Ameliasburgh Coun. Roy Pennell, in explaining his reasoning for not supporting the increase, had the following to say:

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