St. Marys hiring social worker to work with police as part of well-being pilot
By The Canadian Press
By The Canadian Press
One of the biggest highlights from last Tuesday’s Town Council meeting was the decision to hire a social worker as part of an effort to address mental health and addiction issues in St. Marys, Ont.
Brent Kittmer, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of St. Marys, led the discussion with Council last Tuesday regarding an application for pre-budget approval for the hiring of a social worker to work within the community. Kittmer noted that they are seeking pre-budget approval for $30,000 from Council so that they can begin an application to the United Way Perth-Huron seeking the other half of the cost. The worker would be employed under Family Services, according to Kittmer, and because of this, a funding commitment from the Council is required before they can apply for outside financial assistance.
This effort is part of a bigger plan by Town staff to address community well-being, mental health, and addiction issues. The Council has been hearing concerns over social issues from community members and housing units and this proposal could be a key step in successfully addressing those concerns.
The primary role of the social worker that the Town is looking to bring in would be to administer the Community and Social Well-Being pilot project. The individual is not intended to be a caseworker, but rather will focus on early intervention. This means working with police, community members, and those in need to find solutions and assistance where it is needed before larger problems arise. They will become a primary source for community members to voice their concerns for issues relating to community well-being.
Mayor Al Strathdee spoke on the need for the social worker and the community project as a whole, saying that members of the community don’t have the help they need. He also noted that there is a “mental health crisis” that is only going to worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kittmer also added that more people are struggling today with mental health and addiction issues. The pre-budget approval was given unanimously by members of the Council to the proposed hiring, which Kittmer noted the Town hopes to have in place by early 2021.
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent