The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.
The City of Flin Flon welcomes proposed legislation that would integrate municipal welfare programs into the provincial system. Introduced last month by Family Services and Housing Minister Christine Melnick, the legislation would see municipalities pay into a provincial welfare fund rather than administer social assistance themselves. "We've always felt within the City of Flin Flon that we really weren't set up properly to receive people who were applying for social assistance," said Larry Fancy, municipal administrator. "My problem was the issue of privacy for the individuals. City Hall was not set up to meet those needs, and that was always a concern." In Manitoba communities outside Winnipeg, municipalities currently administer social assistance for non-disabled single people, childless couples and two-parent families. The province is presently responsible for all other applicants, such as single parents and disabled people. The proposed legislation would see the Manitoba government administer all social assistance across the province. Fancy stated that legislation appears to be a sure thing, saying Premier Gary Doer assured at a recent municipal government conference that it would go before the Legislature and pass. "It's something we've lobbied for for years as municipal administrators, and the elected officials lobbied also," said Fancy. At one time, individual municipalities determined how much they would pay welfare recipients. Since then, provincial legislation has been enacted governing the amount municipal welfare will pay. "It doesn't make sense to have a two-tier system," said Fancy. If passed, the legislation will see the City contribute $60,300 each year to a provincial welfare fund. That figure is based on the City's average social assistance expenditures over the past seven years. While that amount is slightly above what the City currently pays toward welfare, future increases in the costs of social assistance would be absorbed by the province. The number of people on municipal welfare in Flin Flon fluctuates. The number sat at 45 people last month. Another benefit Fancy sees to a one-tier system is that improper use of the welfare system could be minimized. "I think it's less prone to abuse when you have a system that's tied together in one database," he said.