Low-income seniors and people with disabilities can expect to keep receiving deliveries of meals and other essentials throughout the winter after the province announced an extension to its community support program.
In an announcement Thursday, Ontario’s Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility said that the delivery program, which was launched in April to help seniors and people with disabilities remain home during the pandemic, will now run until March 2021.
Four Hamilton organizations are providing deliveries through the Ontario Community Support Program, namely, Welcome Inn Community Centre, Glanbrook Community Services, Ancaster Community Services, and VON Hamilton.
“This is much, much needed, because donor dollars are not flowing as quickly right now,” said Jamie VanderBerg, executive director of Welcome Inn Community Centre, an organization which has been providing deliveries of food hampers and hygiene items.
He noted that at the beginning of the pandemic, his organization saw an influx in first-time donors, but now Welcome Inn is relying heavily on government support to continue the deliveries. Previously, Welcome Inn had funding only until the end of November through the provincial program, he added.
The province allocated $11 million for meal, medication and other deliveries in April, in partnership with the Ontario Community Support Association, a network of non-profit groups focused on home and community support.
In an email from ministry press secretary Elric Pereira, the ministry said that no additional funds would go into extending the program — its costs would be covered by the initial $11 million.
Ontarians living with a physical disability, whether living independently or in supportive housing, and those who are socially isolated are eligible for the deliveries. In addition, seniors who have low income, are socially isolated and with limited access to transportation are eligible, said the ministry release.
“While many Ontarians are returning to work, this pandemic is far from over for vulnerable people who need continued support to stay healthy and safe at home,” said Deborah Simon, CEO of the Ontario Community Support Association, in the release.
Residents who’d like to access the program can visit www.ontariocommunitysupport.ca. For service by phone, including in languages other than English and French, individuals can call 211 or 1-877-330-3213. TTY service is available by dialing 1-888-340-1001.
Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator