Dear Colleagues, 

Another busy week and we all continue to support our communities! 

A lot of advocacy work has been done with the Federal and Provincial governments identifying gaps and barriers.   The Poverty Task Force met with MP Alex Ruff to discuss the work of local partners, CERB clawbacks and the interaction of Federal and Provincial government support.  Many agencies wrote letters to the government requesting a review of the decision and adjustments were made. 

There was positive news out of the Senate of Canada supporting the restructuring of the CERB as a minimum basic income. This would assist Canadians now and changes could mean support during an economic recovery. More to come on this advocacy front.  

COMMUNICATION SUPPORTS 

  • Recently, the Poverty Task Force joined a Tamarack cross-country call to discuss the changing roles of Poverty Roundtables – shifting from helping residents thrive to helping them survive. As such, the primary focus has been on: food security, safe shelter that allows for social distancing, health information, mental health support, income security, and transportation.  Nastasha Pei has compiled a list of ways organizations are responding under the following headings with many examples in the article
  • Coordinating and information-sharing – Organizing and/or informing the response of the non-profit sector, to ensure clients continue accessing services as best as possible, as well as adapting and enhancing services to accommodate newly vulnerable residents in the community. 
  • Connections – Supporting vulnerable populations during isolation to keep connected with social supports – friends, family, neighbours and service providers.  
  • Funding – Local United Ways are setting up emergency funds and municipal and provincial governments are diverting funds to initiatives that urgently need support to enhance or adapt their operations. 
  • Access to Income – Helping people gain access to emergency financial benefits through information-sharing and tax filing
  • Advocacy – Identifying gaps in policies and supports and using available channels to advocate to higher levels of government for policy changes.  
  • Grey Bruce Public Health’s website contains the latest COVID19 information and organizations can receive regular updates. 
    • Grey Bruce Community Recovery Centres Update News Release
    • GBHU Daily Situation Report link: https://www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca/
    • OPHA COVID-19 Summary of Key Developments for April 22-23, 2020  
    • Several documents have been updated by the Grey Bruce Health Unit:  

INCOME SUPPORTS 

  • Bruce County and Grey County have created a useful handoutCOVID-19 Emergency Assistance, Ontario Works, and Ontario Disability Support Program
  • The Ontario government has decided against excluding CERB from the calculation of social assistance income. While it doesn’t treat CERB as an income replacement program (with its 100% clawback), the government treats it like other employment earnings in social assistance—that is, it will claw back 50% in social assistance income for every dollar of CERB, after a $200/month exemption.  
  • Although this means that people receiving social assistance and CERB will see a decrease in their social assistance income, overall, many people will nonetheless be in a better position to make ends meet.    
  • Maytree Foundation has developed a great blog post that captures the message that we can echo: let’s look at this moment as a glass that is half full and think of this as a first step toward better support for those who are most vulnerable in society. You can read their post here
  • Bruce County and Grey County have created the Social Services Relief Fund flowing through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI).  
  • If your organization, serving Bruce County residents, is providing new or enhanced support or service(s) for vulnerable persons including homelessness support, shelter, food security, and/ or support for seniors or youth as a result of COVID-19, please submit a request for funding by Friday May 1, 2020. Please note that submission of a request does not guarantee funding assistance in part or in full. Please send your request to the attention of Tania Dickson, Housing Services Manager at tdickson@brucecounty.on.ca
  • If you are providing new or enhanced support or service(s) for vulnerable persons in Grey County with respect to homelessness, shelter, food security, seniors, youth or other because of COVID-19, please submit your request for assistance by Monday, April 27, 2020 Josh Gibson, Housing Programs Manager, at Josh.Gibson@grey.ca. For any questions, call 519-376-5744, ext.1216.  
  • It was announced that the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada and United Way Centraide Canadawill receive a newEmergency Community Support Fund.  The new Fund will provide a much-needed boost to organizations on the frontlines, while we also continue our efforts to secure the funding and support required for the stabilization and recovery phases ahead.  More details to come.  
  • The Canada Emergency Student Benefit, will provide $1250 a month to students from May to August. Those with dependents or disabilities can receive up to $1750 a month.  
  • The Canada Student Services Grant can provide up to $5000 for education costs.  

FOOD SUPPORTS 

NEWCOMERS SUPPORTS

  • The Rural Pathways Project has been recruiting volunteer translators/interpreters to assist newcomers with language barriers in accessing information and resources since March. 
  • To date, the languages available among the volunteers include Arabic, Cantonese, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Mandarin, Nepali, Polish, Protugese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Ukranian and Urdu. As the recruitment is ongoing, more language will be added to the list. 
  • In the meantime, if any service providers need to access a translator/interpreter, please contact Rural Pathways Project staff May Ip at newcomer@unitedwaybg.com  

COVID19 AND PETS

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS 

  • We were hoping to have this list completed today but we are still checking in with transportation service providers.
  • But a big THANK YOU to all the transportation service providers that are providing essential services: medical drives, food deliveries as well as ensuring health workers and other essential workers get to work. 

HOUSING SUPPORTS 

  • The YMCA Housing has housed 71 people since April 1st. They are working hard with partners to house people with many barriers and ensure their basic needs are met even while living in motels. 
  • Welcome Centre in Owen Sound will open on Monday, April 27th (854 2nd Ave East) in partnership with CMHA, Safe ‘N Sound, Grey County and Grey Bruce Health Unit.  This Centre is a large space that will allow for social distancing and health screening but allow for resource and social support for people with complex needs. 
  • New guidelines for social distancing:  COVID 19 Guidelines for Laundromats   

Stay well, Jill 

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