Advocates urge help for study’s troublespots

The low points of an otherwise bright VitalSigns study will not be repaired without outside support, leaders with social services groups said yesterday.


VitalSigns — an annual municipal “checkup” by the Community Foundation of Ottawa — reports that hunger and poverty remain a problem in a city that is enjoying overall good health.


The report grades Ottawa in 11 categories and shows a widening gap between rich and poor that sees one in five families living beneath the poverty line, and a growing reliance on emergency food assistance. As well, the number of children and seniors using shelters has increased.


Solutions to problems in the report should not come strictly from city hall, said foundation president and chief executive Barb McInnes, who added higher governments and individuals have responsibility to improve things, too.

Coun. Diane Holmes, with the housing committee, said Ottawa is building about 200 affordable housing units a year, but that does little for 10,000 people on waiting lists.

“With our property tax base, we are doing what we can, but the situation will not improve until the senior levels of government get interested,” she said.

And the re-elected provincial government needs to follow through on disability support and minimum wage promises to take stress off the Ottawa Food Bank, said executive director Peter Tilley.