People who work with young people in Ottawa are urging councillors to avoid finding budget cost-saving measures on the backs of children.
“People in Ottawa want to live in a city that gives kids the best possible start and the city budget should reflect that,” Alex Munter, executive director of the Ottawa’s Youth Services Bureau, said yesterday at city hall. “A number of the cuts that were put forward in the draft budget and are still on the table would go in the opposite direction.”
Munter, a former city councillor who finished second to Larry O’Brien in the 2006 mayoral race, wanted council not to consider options like increasing the cost of student bus passes, slashing school health programs, reducing funding for agencies that provide youth programs and increasing recreation user fees.
If city budget cuts go ahead, Munter said the YSB would be forced to have fewer drop-in and emergency shelter programs. Other proposed service cuts include the elimination of subsidized child-care spaces and the abolition of the Ottawa Youth Commission, a program that tries to engage young people in municipal politics.
“We go out to schools, community centres and talk to youth about issues affecting them and then reported back to city council,” said Keri Abella, Youth Engagement Coordinator with Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa.
Busy time ahead