Nova Scotians living in poverty will benefit from a new grant program for community-based organizations, and people on income assistance in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) will receive a free bus pass.
Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine and Community Services Minister Kelly Regan announced the new Building Vibrant Communities program today, Dec. 13.
“The program will help community-based organizations develop innovative approaches to supporting our most vulnerable citizens and ensuring every Nova Scotian has a chance of having a more secure future,” said Mr. Glavine. “This is about supporting community organizations that know best what local needs are.”
The Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage will implement the grant program, that focuses on the following three areas in its first year:
–food security: initiatives that provide Nova Scotians with adequate access to food
–youth transition: enabling Nova Scotian youth to become independent adults
–transportation: helping Nova Scotians access the transportation they need
“All Nova Scotians deserve a chance to build a better life for themselves and their families,” said Ms. Regan. “Breaking the cycle of poverty requires ensuring the right programs and services are in place to address needs today and for future generations. This involves all levels of government, communities, community groups, and organizations working together.”
Eligible applicants include community organizations, First Nations communities, registered charities, municipalities, social enterprises, and private-sector businesses if they partner with non-profit organizations. Funding is available for up to $50,000 per project, and organizations may submit more than one application for different projects. A total of $600,000 is available until March 31, 2018.
“A small amount of funding goes a long way when a community works together on things that matter to them,” said Marjorie Willison, chair of the Spryfield Community Association. “We’re excited about the potential of these grants to help us reduce poverty.”
The Building Vibrant Communities grant is the first initiative of government’s poverty reduction blueprint. Over the next four years, government has committed $20 million to support actions from all levels of government and communities, to work together to help reduce poverty in Nova Scotia.
Government also entered into a new agreement with HRM on a pilot project that will give bus passes to more Nova Scotians on employment supports and income assistance. Recipients, along with their spouses and children on a Halifax Transit bus route, will now receive a free bus pass to meet their transportation needs.
“This will positively affect the lives of people living in poverty. People on income assistance told us that transportation needed to be addressed,” said Ms. Regan.
The new pilot removes administrative requirements such as getting a doctor’s note to prove the number of medical appointments required each month.
“Public transit performs a vital role in helping residents get to work, appointments and school along with enabling them to participate more fully in their community,” said Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor Mike Savage. “Extending transit passes to people on income assistance will help meet a basic transportation need while we work to address broader, systemic causes of poverty in our city.”
“We need to change the way we help those most vulnerable in our communities. Having better access to transportation allows people to seek the support they need, and to pursue those opportunities that lead to self-sufficiency,” said Nick Jennery, executive director, Feed Nova Scotia. “Bold new thinking is required and today’s announcement starts us down that road. Given the high rate of food insecurity in our province, we urgently need to try something new, and build on the momentum it creates.”
To get more information on the grants, and to apply, please visit: https://cch.novascotia.ca/building-vibrant-communities-grant.