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Deplorable Liberals snub York on cash for at-risk women ISSUE: Queen's Park dished out $4 million to help Ontario's abused women, but not one York Region agency received cash.

By Joe Fantauzzi, Staff Writer

Nov 23, 2006

York Region has, once again, been snubbed by Ontario's Liberal government.

Queen's Park dished out $4 million this week to help at-risk and abused women find jobs, but not one cent will go to any York Region agencies.

Let's do a quick review of the most basic facts about one of Canada's fastest growing communities -- facts, apparently, lost on the Dalton McGuinty Liberals.

York Region's population is teetering on the one million mark and, by 2031, is expected to balloon to 1.5 million people.

To meet growth plan projections for the next 25 years, as mandated in the province's own Places to Grow scheme, York will need to create more than 10,000 housing units a year.

Between 1991 and 2001, the number of new Canadians in the region ballooned by 132 per cent, yet funding from the federal and provincial governments for settlement and integration services declined from $416 per immigrant in 2001/2002 to less than $200 in 2004/2005.

It's clear because of this massive growth, York Region's social service demands are reaching an all-time high.

York's two shelters for women fleeing abusive relationships are busting at the seams and are struggling to keep up with immigrants needing assistance in a strange, new homeland.

So why no money for York's at-risk women?

This newspaper spent Tuesday afternoon trying to find an answer to that question, but after nearly 25 calls to various government offices, agencies and "partners", no one could tell us.

In fact, one government employee thought York Region was part of North York and also thought it was part of York University.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has been buying taxpayers with our own money these past few weeks faster than the ink is drying on the cheques he's writing.

This latest spending spree, dubbed the Employment Training Pilot Projects Program, is supposed to benefit Ontario women most at risk who have experienced domestic violence.

But Mr. McGuinty's latest plan will only help 450 women.

That works out to about $9,000 for each of them over a two-year period.

And while the province has designated much of York as growth zones over the next two decades, it is Toronto that gets about $2 million of that money to help women there get back into the workforce.

This is a stinging blow, once again, to York, considering taxpayers already write Toronto an $89-million cheque each year to help cover its social service needs.

When this newspaper informed Oak Ridges MPP Frank Klees about this Tuesday, he fired off a media release 20 minutes later, slamming the Liberals for being "out of touch with the needs of York Region and, especially, as they relate to women's issues".

In a letter to Minister Responsible for Women's Issues Sandra Pupatello, Mr. Klees asks the Liberals to include York Region and allocate a "fair share" here.

"I was shocked to learn that York Region would receive none of the funding mentioned in your announcement," Mr. Klees scolded Mrs. Pupatello.

He's not alone.

York Region is constantly underfunded per capita on a number of fronts, including social services and health care.

But to exclude York Region in an initiative involving abused women who need help finding jobs -- a good number of whom will likely be new citizens -- is inexcusable at best.

Voters, take note.

BOTTOM LINE: Ignoring one of Canada's fastest growing regions on any social services front in inexcusable.

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