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Healthy and Safe Communities Department presents 2022 operating budget

HAMILTON, ON - Today, the proposed 2022 Operating Budget for the Healthy and Safe Communities Department (HSC) was presented to Hamilton City Council’s General Issues Committee.

General Manager Angie Burden’s presentation included a summary of the department’s 2021 accomplishments and challenges including the sustained COVID-19 response impacting all Divisions, investments in affordable housing, climate positive work, advancing strategies such as Hamilton’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan, and the Urban Indigenous Strategy Reconciliation Action Plan. The presentation also provided a look ahead at major areas of focus in 2022.

In 2021, the Healthy and Safe Communities (HSC) Department continued to adapt operations in response to the various waves and impacts of COVID-19 on the community, and the systems of care that are delivered across each Division. This included adapting services and responses to ever-changing provincial and public health regulations with a focus on preserving health care and human services system capacity and ensuring residents could continue to safely access the services and supports they rely on that are essential to their well-being.

Central to the response continued to be the flexibility and perseverance of staff and our funded agencies who continued to take on new roles or adapt services in response to the changing needs of the community.

The Healthy and Safe Communities Department preliminary 2022 operating budget represents an increase of 5.4 per cent or $13.7 million from 2021 to maintain service levels and support affordable Housing investment commitments.

Key HSC Priorities for 2022

  • Hamilton Public Health Services ongoing COVID-19 infectious disease control and vaccine programs.
  • Transition from Post-COVID-19 emergency to recovery across health and human services systems, with a dedicated focus on staff mental health, well-being and resilience, and staffing recovery and recruitment.
  • Continuing to advance City and community climate change priorities.
  • Balancing response to emergency shelter needs in the community, sustaining people’s housing with appropriate supports, and advancing long-term permanent solutions to Hamilton’s housing pressures through the increase in supply of affordable housing units.
  • Supporting larger system changes at federal and provincial level that will impact municipal service delivery such as the National Child Care Plan, Provincial Social Assistance Renewal, and Provincial Modernization of Long-Term Care (Macassa and Wentworth Lodges).

2021 Highlights

  • The continued leadership of Public Health Services in the evolving COVID-19 response. In collaboration with healthcare and community partners, administered over 1 million COVID-19 vaccines in Hamilton, resulting in 79.4 per cent of Hamilton’s eligible population being fully vaccinated as of December 31, 2021. In parallel, completed case and contact tracing for 28,035 cases and supported the management of 580 outbreaks in congregate living and community settings, and was able to maintain essential programming in public health, such as Hamilton’s Healthy Babies Healthy Children program, expanded naloxone distribution, and dental health services for vulnerable populations.
  • Expanded role of mobile integrated health community paramedicine services supporting vulnerable residents with flu shots, wellness calls, remote patient monitoring, and new programs introduced in 2021, such as paramedic providing palliative care and Community Paramedic Long Term Care.  
  • Hamilton Paramedic Services COVID Swabbing Team conducted 14,319 tests and initiated mobile COVID-19 testing serving areas of the community with high COVID positive cases. Supported healthcare partners with mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics and vaccinated 3,994 homebound individuals.  
  • Secured and leveraged investments in long-term permanent solutions towards Hamilton’s housing pressures through the building of 155 new affordable housing units through the Federal Rapid Housing Initiative program exceeding the initial City allocated program requirements. In addition, the City benefited from a Federal Investment of $145.6 M in forgivable and repayable loans through National Housing Co-Investment Fund investments towards the maintenance and improvement of current housing supply for 6,290 units within CityHousing Hamilton. The City will support the repayment of $87M in loans under this program.
  • Further strengthened City’s commitment to response to the Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action through the approval of the Urban Indigenous Strategy Reconciliation Action Plan, strengthening the role and capacity of the Indigenous Relations team and through strengthening cultural capacity, awareness and education.
  • Supported child development, the economy and the viability of Hamilton’s 237 licensed child care centres, and Hamilton’s EarlyON Child and Family Centre programs through financial investments in the local child care system to support staff wellness, enhanced health and safety measures to protect staff and children and return programs to full capacity. Provided free emergency child care during school closure periods for 200 school aged children of essential frontline workers per month across Hamilton’s three licenced home child care agencies.
  • Increased access and affordability for licensed child care by providing 2,400 children per month with the Affordability Grant which reduces the cost of child care by $10/day, in addition to providing 395 families COVID Absence Funding to offset cost of children’s COVID related absences from child care. There continues to be no waitlist for child care fee subsidy.
  • Adapted recreation services and kept Hamilton active through expanded outdoor programing – lending program averaging 350 monthly reservations for equipment including poles, snowshoes, stroller skis, and disc golf equipment, and the resumption of SUPIE last summer
  • Bridged gaps in access to menstrual products through implementation of Menstrual products pilot providing free menstrual products in select recreation centres, as well as 23 Hamilton Food Share locations.
  • Harmonized financial eligibility for five City funded low-income programs creating clear and consistent financial thresholds for the Affordable Transit Pass, Special Supports Low Income Program, Snow Angels, Housing Stability Benefit, and Recreation Assistance Program.
  • Participated in social assistance transformation, (pilots – employment services transformation and centralized intake), which will shift administrative tasks to the province, and enable City of Hamilton case workers to shift their focus to life stabilization activities with clients.

“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of the people of our community. A robust and well-funded Healthy and Safe Communities Department and all the services it delivers has never been more important and I am proud of what the department has accomplished particularly during the challenge of the pandemic.”

- Mayor Fred Eisenberger

 

“Sustaining a pandemic response across all systems of service and care delivered by Healthy and Safe Communities for two years is an incredible testament to the resiliency and dedication of our workforce. In parallel with this, in 2021 HSC ensured for the safe continuity of critical services and advanced many strategic priorities across housing, climate change, and community safety and well-being. The 2022 Healthy and Safe Communities Department operating budget focuses on continued COVID-19 response, longer-term recovery for staff and community, and investments in affordable housing.”

- Angie Burden, General Manager, Healthy and Safe Communities Department

 

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