Letter to the Editor: Ontarians’ forgotten assets can help individuals and communities in Huron County

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In light of COVID-19, Ontario communities and families are struggling more than ever. Here in Huron County, lots of our neighbours have lost their jobs. Many part-time and temporary workers are facing the impossible question of whether to pay for food or rent, or facing unprecedented personal challenges.

As Ontario looks for innovative ways to support individuals and communities, a potential solution is to unlock money that already exists. More specifically, Ontario can explore the creation of an Unclaimed Properties Act that can make approximately $14.4 million of unclaimed assets deliver much-needed relief to both individuals and the community.

Unclaimed Property covers a broad range of financial assets that are forgotten or go unclaimed by their rightful owners. Think employment wages that get sent to an old address or estate gifts where the next of kin can’t be tracked down.

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But it’s money that many could put to good use right now.

Inspired by the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society, an Unclaimed Properties Act in Ontario can achieve two important goals: reuniting everyday Ontarians with monies that are rightfully theirs and creating community benefits by sharing a percentage of unclaimed assets with communities each year. A key feature in B.C. is that the Unclaimed Property Society works to locate owners and holders of unclaimed property. There is also a searchable database that allows the public to identify whether unclaimed funds are held in their name.

Ontario does not currently have the legal structure in place to do this. But that’s not to say that Ontario doesn’t have any unclaimed property. Based on BC’s performance, we expect this initiative could unlock approximately $14.4 million of unclaimed assets deliver much-needed relief to both individuals and the community. This is real money that could help individuals and meet urgent community needs right here in Huron County.

The best news for Ontario is that at a time when need is so great, this money is available at no cost to the taxpayer. It only requires legislation to support it and an intermediary, the Community Foundations of Canada, to help make it accessible.

This is a great opportunity for Ontarians to have greater access to their own financial assets, while also raising the sails of our struggling charitable sector at a time when communities need it most.

Yours truly,

Pat Morden, Executive Director,

Sunset Community Foundation

Sunsetcommunityfoundation.ca

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