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Productive year for RRDSSAB

By Randy Thoms May 24, 2023 | 12:16 AM

It has been a busy twelve months for the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board.

The agency saw several projects move forward or come to completion.

A new childcare centre was opening in Atikokan at the new K-12 Northern Lakes School.

Renovations to the warming centre building in Fort Frances were completed while the purchase of the former St. Michael’s School in Fort Frances wrapped up after an unsuccessful appeal by a local resident.

Chief Administrative Officer Dan McCormick says the expansion of the warming centre to include additional supports for the homeless was one of the biggest accomplishments.

“One of the big concerns with our board is there is no continuum of care for the homeless. We can get them into this shelter for the winter months and get them out of the elements, but when they go through the programs next door, they come out, and they’re back on the street because there’s no permanent housing and supports for them in the future. So this building with the warming center, the treatment center next door, and then transition beds will hopefully fill that gap,” says McCormick.

McCormick says the board was also successful in its lobbying efforts.

Delegates meet with several government ministers at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to discuss issues impacting the Rainy River District.

The need to attract new paramedics and early childhood educators is among the top concerns.

McCormick feels they made some inroads.

“We did go to the minister of education and the other various ministers, but education was paramount in coming out with the learn and stay program that we helped propose with some of our other colleagues. With that, there’s free tuition for a paramedic, there’s free tuition for an ECE, so they can basically get a free degree and move forward.”

The DSSAB introduced a number of initiatives aimed at recruitment.

It included purchasing temporary housing, establishing new bursaries for graduating high school students and reimbursing tuition.