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Councillors toss lifeline to local job seekers

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa city council has started a chain to help support a local organization, which they hope will eventually lead to it’s survival.

Due to the changes in provincial funding models, the Durham Region Employment Network (DREN) was recently forced to close its doors after more than 20 years of helping local residents, especially those who face barriers towards getting a job, find employment.

Since opening in 1993, DREN has operated without core government funding, relying on case-by-case dollars from different levels of government.

Now, to help the organization operate into the new year, Councillor Amy McQuaid-England brought forward a motion to provide DREN with $1,600 and have a request sent to the other Durham Region municipalities to do the same. A request for $12,000 will appear on the next committee of the whole agenda at the region.

“I think that this is an important initiative in terms of looking at economic development instead of a top-down approach,” she said. “This is actually working on the ground level through the most precarious individuals to fund the employment from the ground up.

“It would be a shame to see their doors closed,” she added.

The motion received support from Councillor Dan Carter.

“I truly believe that this organization is in desperate need,” he said. “Even if we’re unsuccessful, I’m more comfortable with us doing something, than absolutely nothing.”

However, it was a sentiment that Councillor Nancy Diamond opposed, stating the city’s contingency fund is not to be used just because there are extra dollars there.

“I don’t believe that this is something that we can spend on finances on,” she said, adding that the funds should really be coming from the province.

“This is downloading by stealth,” she said.

However, despite her protests, the motion carried with only Councillor Bob Chapman joining Diamond’s opposition.