County wants to split Community Health Van funding shortfall with Guelph

WELLINGTON ‒ The Guelph Wellington Community Health Van could live to see another year with some help from the county and City of Guelph.

In a new report coming to county social service committee next week, staff are recommending the Guelph Wellington Community Health Van receive approximately $90,000 in funding from the county to cover the continued provision of its harm reduction services across Wellington County up until September 2024.

The City of Guelph will also be asked to contribute an additional $90,000.

Staff is also recommending additional financial commitments beyond September.

Run by Sanguen Outreach Programs and staffed by a number of different outreach groups. In October they were informed its three-year Health Canada Substance Use and Addictions grant would not be extended beyond March and that they should seek alternate options.

"Staff envisions that this service can be strengthened to better support those living in unsheltered homelessness to ensure they are provided with primary care and basic needs while building strong relationships to promote housing first strategies," said social service administrator, Luisa Artuso, in the report.

Making up 80 per cent of funding, the Health Canada grant currently covers approximately $240,000 per year and expires in March 2024.

Staff also recommend ongoing annualized funding to Sanguen Health Centre by September 2024 "for increased services to better align with Social Services" starting in 2025.

According to the van's team lead, Cory Gillies, the community health van performed 4,302 interventions from July to September, almost doubling its 2021 numbers during the same period.

The van currently visits each of its serviced municipalities every Tuesday and Wednesday on a bi-weekly basis, making two stops a day for two hours each, before returning to Guelph, where it provides off-duty service from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On average, the van serves 100 individuals a week in Guelph while in Wellington County, 55 and 45 individuals are served on a weekly and bi-weekly basis.

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,