Apparently, senior citizens (with chronic pain) are lying on beds made of gravy

Apparently, senior citizens (with chronic pain) are lying on beds made of gravy

Having slashed councillor expense budgets, city hall is looking for new ways to save money. One idea is to eliminate the Toronto Hardship Fund, which the city’s website describes as a way to “meet the medically based needs of residents where the cost of these items would cause undue financial hardship.” If that sounds at touch abstract, the good folk at the Toronto Star (who may or may not be headed for the chopping block themselves) did what good journalists do and followed the money—all the way to a $3,500 bed for an elderly woman, Shirley Schillinger, who suffers from chronic pain.

The city’s paper of record has the details:

Schillinger is one of about 1,300 low-income Toronto seniors and disabled people with serious medical needs who benefit from the $900,000 city fund every year. But city council voted 23-22 last month to consider axing the fund as part of its efforts to shave $360 million from next year’s budget.

More than a dozen community social service agencies are hoping city manager Joe Pennachetti spares the fund when he tables his proposed 2012 budget later this month.

“Eliminating the fund will endanger the health and wellbeing of more than a thousand Toronto residents who struggle daily with the basics,” says John Campey of Social Planning Toronto, which is leading a campaign to save the fund.

Depending on your point of view, the fund is either a good example of taxpayer dollars at work (60 cents per year for the average property taxpayer) or, you know, a big boat of gravy. Of course, since Rob Ford didn’t find the gravy at city hall that he preached about on the campaign trail, he has repeatedly redefined his favourite term to include thing like city workers and even the vehicle registration tax. In other words, he seems to be gradually defining everything that represents any sort of government intervention as a form of waste. Sure, sticking up for the Hardship Fund would be a deviation from his larger strategy, but could it really hurt Ford that much? After all, a bed for a senior citizen isn’t quite the same as a $12,000 retirement party.

Hardship fund on the chopping block [Toronto Star]

(Images: Bed, Joelk75; gravy boat, Glory Foods)