Dear Colleagues, 

I hope that this email finds you well! 

As we come to the end of week 3 of social isolation we want to thank all of you for the tremendous work that is going on with each of your respective organizations! 

Members continue to feed more people than normal and find permanent housing for more people during this COVID-19 Pandemic.  We thank all our members who have shifted their work from health equity, food security or income security advocacy to taking up roles as nurses and long-term care front line staff.  This is an amazing emergency response by all. 

We continue to update our lists of food, housing, income & employment supports at: https://povertytaskforce.com/covid-19-community-resources/

OMSSA Today Newsletter is out with news, policy updates and resources that matter to social services. 

COMMUNICATION SUPPORTS 

  • Many of us have switched to Zoom to carry out staff meetings and to stay in touch with friends/families. Zoom Healthcare is also available which has PIPEDA and PHIPA compliance for confidential meetings with clients. 
  • The YMCA Employment program is reaching out to clients via video live feeds on Facebook. It is great to see the faces of their staff reaching out to clients and being available for Facebook Live questions and answers
  • Rentsafe has released its video Housing Issues? We’re Here to Help on available Housing Supports in Grey Bruce. 
  • Rogers offers $9.99 internet to low income housing organization tenants. Are PTF members aware of any new deals? 

FOOD SUPPORTS 

  • Community Gardens have been a discussion amongst many Food Security Action Group partners.  The government has come out with a ban on the Gardens so some organizations are discussing household gardens and seed distribution. GB Public Health has released Guidelines on Gardeners. 
  • Sustain Ontario is facilitating an open letter—for any organization in the province to support—that identifies Community Gardens as essential community food services.
  • Community Meal programs continue to distribute food. Many have increased their numbers. Chesley Baptist Church opened up this week for a weekly lunch-to-go meal program (12noon-1pm). Numbers doubled in the number of people served. 
  • FoodRescue.ca has announced funding available for members and non-members who are not already accessing funding through Feed Ontario or The Salvation Army.  Food Banks who 1) are existing members can apply directly, 2) non-members can join FoodRescue.ca or 3) non-members can apply without becoming members. Any questions can be answered at: emergencyfund@secondharvest.ca 
  • United Way Pandemic Fund and Food Security Fund: Food banks and food programs were invited to highlight funding requests to address unmet program needs. 22% of the funds have been directed to food banks, 18% to community meal programs, 16% went to toilet paper for distribution through the food banks and 15% is being held for the community meal programs for April and May needs.
  • The United Way was able to source bulk purchases of items directly from suppliers. This is important to reduce volunteers/staff having to shop frequently at grocery stores.  Habitat for Humanity is providing delivery services. For more info contact Francesca Dobbyn execdir@unitedwaybg.com 

CHILDREN & YOUTH SUPPORTS

  • The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has launched BounceBack® . It is designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. Delivered free, over the phone with a coach and through online videos, you will get access to tools that will support you on your path to mental wellness. 
  • The Province has announced one time funding for families of children age 0-12 and children/youth with autism. 
  • There is a correction to the Bruce County Children’s Services’ number on the Bruce County Human Services COVID-19 Response poster. 
  • The United Way is already planning for children’s return to school and its 2020 Backpack Program. If your organization would like to submit requests for build backpacks please contact Sarah at: backpacks@unitedwaybg.com.  If you anticipate an increased need please let the United Way know so they can prepare for the Fall.   

HOUSING SUPPORTS 

  • Weekly Housing Action Group meetings are being held to coordinate emergency needs. The YMCA Housing reports that since mid-March they have sheltered 64 households. Of those, 23 households have found permanent housing and 2 in transitional housing.
  • Ontario Housing Benefit will be starting to roll out for affordable housing. 
  • Bruce County and Grey County Housing received notice last week from Municipal Affairs/Housing that they will be receiving funding
    from Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) to flow funds for COVID -19 response. It will allow support for seniors, food, and other emergency needs. The Counties are currently undertaking a rapid needs analysis. 

Stay well,  Jill Umbach

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