The St. Thomas Elgin Social Services (STESS) Office is responsible for the provision of basic financial and employment support assistance to individuals and families in Elgin and St. Thomas. Ontario Works and Children’s Services are divisions of this organization and both provided updates at the June 12 County Council meeting.
Ontario Works provided a synopsis of its annual activities and an update on social assistance modernization. In 2017 Basic Financial Assistance made up most of the Ontario Works budget providing assistance for food and shelter to St. Thomas-Elgin residents. Other funding went towards mandatory benefits such as travel and transportation to medical appointments, diabetic supplies, health related benefits and full time employment benefits. A detailed breakdown of Ontario Works funding, case load and geographical distribution can be found in the June 12, 2018 County Council agenda package.
Children’s Services also presented a summary of its 2017 activities including the transitioning of Children’s Services and the Ontario Early Years programs to meet new provincial legislation and guidelines. The report also touched on the planning and implementation of two capital expansion projects in 2018, with builds of new Child Care and Child and Family Centres at Aldborough Public School (TVDSB) in Rodney and at Assumption Catholic School (LCDSB) in Aylmer. Both sites are anticipated to open in 2019 and will expand the existing child care system to include an additional 89 licensed child care spaces.
The number of seniors that are expected to need help or care will double in the next 30 years. The Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) strives to help people live safely and independently at home for as long as possible, while remaining engaged with their communities.
The Middlesex Elgin VON is the largest VON site serving seniors in Middlesex County, Elgin County, the City of St. Thomas and the City of London. The organization administers over 50 programs including Meals on Wheels, transportation programs, and SMART exercise classes. Detailed Elgin County statistics can be found in the complete report contained in the June 12, 2018 County Council agenda package.
The County of Elgin Official Plan was adopted on October 9, 2013 and the document is now approaching the five year timeframe in which it should be reviewed and updated as per the Ontario Planning Act. A major part of this review is to undertake a Natural Heritage Systems Study. Detailed natural heritage data and mapping was not available at the time the Official Plan was being prepared in 2011-2012. Conducting this study in 2018 will ensure that Elgin’s Official Plan is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement.
The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority has been retained to conduct this study on behalf of the County. The conservation authority has considerable experience in completing Natural Heritage Systems Studies which have been completed for a number of neighbouring Counties including Oxford, Middlesex and Huron.