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Hamilton’s Healthy and Safe Communities Department 2020 budget presentation highlights

Hamilton, ON – Earlier today, Hamilton City Council’s General Issues Committee considered the 2020 budget from the Healthy and Safe Communities department. General Manager, Paul Johnson outlined how Healthy and Safe Communities contributes towards the City of Hamilton’s vision to be the best place to raise a child and age successfully. Together with its partners, the department brings this vision to life by creating a city where people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and income levels can succeed.

The presentation also included highlights from 2019, that focused on responding to the climate emergency and delivering value through continuous improvement and innovation, as well as key initiatives for the department in 2020.

The Healthy and Safe Communities’ preliminary 2020 operating budget proposes a $6.6 million increase (2.7%).

2019 Highlights

  • Continued decrease in code zero events from 96 in 2018 to 80 in 2019.
  • Decrease in the number of households on Access to Housing Waitlists, 6,231 in 2019 down from 6,704 in 2018.
  • Lower Ontario Works (OW) caseloads and increased transition to employment.
  • Increase in the number of visits to EarlyON Child and Family Centres from 170,440 in 2018 to 185,761 in 2019.
  • Opioid use continues to be an issue in the community with 596 calls to 911 for suspected opioid overdose and 70 opioid related deaths in Hamilton from January to June 2019.
  • In 2019, there was the re-emergence of a child care waitlist which now has just over 1,000 children waiting for child care spaces.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

  • Provided financial support to families accessing licensed child care, 4,800 children supported through a Child Care Affordability Plan and 6,800 children supported through child care fee subsidy programs.
  • Implemented a new service model which, for the first time in Hamilton, eliminated the waitlist for special needs resourcing services for children.
  • Continued growth of Recreation’s support programs with new programming and partnerships that provided 14,636 scheduled hours of support for 338 program participants.
  • Successful graduation of 83% of youth participating in Hamilton Youth in Construction, a program for youth not in education, employment or training to build construction labour skills for future employment.
  • Since 2014, 100 young women have participated in Camp FFIT (Female Firefighters in Training), an opportunity that introduces young women to a career in fire services.
  • Approval of the City’s first Urban Indigenous Strategy, with 40 recommendations establish through community engagement. 
  • Invested $2 million in the Home for the Holidays program. Results included the repair of 144 social housing units, 101 units rented; and 94 households housed from the waitlist – 250 units in total will be renovated through this investment.

Climate Change

  • Led the Corporate Climate Change Task Force to coordinate the ongoing centralization of climate change action across the Corporation, working to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050.
  • Explored and implemented the use of hybrid and electric vehicles including hybrid ambulances, electric golf carts and electric ice resurfacers.

Continuous Improvement

  • Paramedics spent 30,549 hours in 2019 waiting to transfer patients to the Emergency Department, actions to reduce this time included:
    • influenza immunization clinics in CityHousing Hamilton buildings where four times more residents received their flu shots.
    • care for residents in Long-Term Care facilities with influenza-type symptoms.
    • Fit-to-Sit program which is projected to allow over 700 patients to be transferred directly into the waiting room, allowing paramedics to return to the community.
  • Re-engineered firefighting apparatus in 2018 which resulted in cost savings of appropriately $1 million, accelerated apparatus replacement and will provide ongoing savings for all future apparatus purchases over the next 20 years.
  • Introduced innovative new practices to better meet the needs of residents including virtual breastfeeding services, a drone to support Fire search and rescue efforts, portable dental clinics in schools and robotic companion animals to provide care for persons with dementia in long-term care homes.

Key Healthy and Safe Communities Initiatives for 2020:

  • Implement 10-Year Fire Service Delivery Plan
  • Develop 10-Year Hamilton Paramedic Services Master Plan
  • Continued focus on mental health and addictions
  • Respond to air quality and climate change
  • Social housing renewal
  • Homelessness and affordable housing
  • Address pressures to expand child care

Council is expected to consider final approval of the City’s overall tax operating budget by early April.

Additional resource

Learn more about the focus of the 2020 Budget