Feds, province could help with Merrymount's financial challenges

The Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre is looking to city hall for financial help, but some responsibility may lie with higher levels of government.

Councillor Phil Squire says, “Will the federal government step up and provide a contribution? Will the provincial government?”

Squire values the work Merrymount does in the community, but wants city staff to investigate other funding sources to fill the budget shortfalls.

Merrymount is seeking $370,000 this year and $240,000 next year from the city.

The bridge funding will maintain programs and prevent bed closures until a more sustainable business model is in place in 2021.

“This demand that I see really arose out of an emergency circumstance - immigration circumstance - with the Yazidis who were facing extreme persecution,” Squire says.

According to Merrymount about 400 Yazidi refugees have settled in London after escaping genocide at the hands of ISIS in northern Iraq and Syria.

The organization stepped in to provide therapy to young children kidnapped by ISIS and forced to become child soldiers who are now living in London.

London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos learned of the financial shortfall from CTV News.

“This is the first I’m hearing of this particular challenge and I welcome that opportunity, our government is not hesitant when it comes to helping newcomers settle.”

Fragiskatos says recent Yazidi refugees have primarily settled in London and Winnipeg, because the cities were already home to existing communities, and federal support for some resettlement costs may be available.

“There are mental health supports that are available for organizations that are carrying out that support working with newcomers and refugees.”

Therapy for Yazidi children is just one of several budget pressures being experienced by Merrymount, they also include increases in addiction in the community and a rising poverty rate.

Squire expects council will refer Merrymount's funding request to staff so that talks with the upper levels of government can take place before council finalizes city hall's 2019 budget.