With high temperatures, sunny days and restrictions being eased it is easy to forget we are in a global pandemic. We have done an incredible job to adapt our programs to continue to provide essential services. Now businesses are opening their doors and people are out shopping.
However, at recent Feed Ontario and Food Bank Canada meetings they are discussing 3 possible surges over the next year – end of summer, November/December and in the spring. So we must remain flexible and responsive to the ongoing needs of our vulnerable population as well as looking at the longer-term sustainability of our current programs.
We are all working through many organizational questions and decisions to ensure the safety of our staff and clients as we consider opening up our physical doors again.
Maytree hosted a webinar last week – Five Good Ideas about re-opening your workplace post COVID-19 that is now available to watch. Watch the webinar
BDO is offering a webinar Assessing your Organization’s Readiness to Return to Work on 2 June 2020.
Grey Bruce Public Health has issued Guidelines for the Re-Opening of businesses and FAQ for Business Operations and Re-Opening and guidelines for specific sectors can be found COVID19 Workplace Resources page.
We are hearing from all sectors of response that people are frustrated with the social isolation and physical distancing. Socialization has changed and as we open up more programs we must also allow the time for people to adjust to programs that have new social rules.
- In the coming days, the Grey Bruce Public Health will be rolling out a “Back to Basics” campaign to remind people that the pandemic is not over and we need to keep preventative health practices in place.
- Wearing masks is becoming part of our visual landscape. It is good to review the GB Health Unit’s Considerations for the public on wearing cloth masks and other non-medical face coverings
- The 21 Food Banks in Grey Bruce continue to provide essential services and to plan for the next 6 months and possibly longer. There have been many changes to ensure the safe distribution of food hampers and we have seen an increase in home deliveries.
- We continue to see an increase in the number of people accessing community meal programs take-away meals across Grey Bruce. OSHaRE has seen an increase in May over March/April with 1,000 more meals. There continues to be incredible donations of funds and food, including Foodrescue.ca fresh produce. Social isolation has increased our need for these programs and people are reporting that there is a certain comfort coming from meals delivered.
- The Good Food Box numbers are increasing and those that are closed are considering re-opening. The Dundalk Good Food box is now up-and-running starting in May.
- Fresh food markets are adapting the way they are operating. Eat Local Grey Bruce were ahead of the curve and able to stay open under COVID19 with their online ordering and delivery service.
- Greenbelt Markets are now supporting local Farmers Markets to transition to online-ordering solutions in Flesherton and Thornbury.
- And others have created new e-commerce sites such as the Owen Sound Farmers Market.
- Community gardens are planting! And those with greenhouses are already generating vegetables to donate to food banks and other community groups. Protocols for operations have been developed by most gardens and best practices shared by Food Security Action Group members. Garden coordinators have created elaborate schedules to ensure proper social distancing, safe tool handling, etc.
- The spirit of community gardening has changed for some gardens in order to accomodate public health protocols and therefore people using the gardens have to adjust to not spending as much chatting and hanging out at the gardens.
- Chippewas of Nawash Hello Fresh Program is offering free meals for off-reserve members. One member per household can sign up and receive free meals.
- Our housing partners continue to shelter people. While numbers have slowed down the people supported are presenting with more complex needs.
- M’Wikwedong is seeing a movement of people leaving reserves.
- Warmer weather means more people are choosing to live outdoors. YMCA Housing and Safe ‘N Sound are ensuring that check-ins are happening to ensure social distancing in any potential tent encampment.
- Most traditional cooling stations are closed so please check with each municipality or city/town on alternative locations. For example, the City of Owen Sound has opened the Farmers Market pavilion from 12:00PM – 4:30PM throughout the week until temperatures cool. Users of the cooling centre must maintain proper physical distancing at all times. Ground markers and posters will be present as a reminder. An industrial fan will be used to circulate air through the space.
- The downtown Welcome Centre and Safe ‘N Sound remain open for drop-ins.
- As of May 29th, the YMCA Housing has coordinated 660 meals to be delivered to people sheltered by the YMCA Housing – prepared by OSHaRE, delivered by Habitat and funded through the United Way and Grey County.
- Safe ‘N Sound are seeing people evicted by landlords and people are being referred to the GB Community Legal Clinic. Eviction bans contribute to the effectiveness of shelter-in-place emergency orders put in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety, but we still need additional measures to protect renters, during the remainder of the pandemic, and afterwards.
- Tenants who have fallen behind on their rent because of COVID-19 will need help to stay housed when the current eviction ban is lifted. A new analysis by Maytree calls for targeted rent relief, a gradual easing of the eviction ban, and a reintroduction of rent controls.
- Thanks to the United Way for pulling together a reminder of the tenant-landlord agreements on Air Conditioning.
- The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care has shared its recommended plan for reopening child care centres. This report highlights the challenges for women, in particular, to return to the workplace without safe childcare in place.
- Discussions began to introduce 10 days of universal sick leave/year by the Federal government. Currently this benefit is decided at a provincial level and most allow for 3 days sick leave.
- IncomeTaxes are due June 1st and payment owing by August 30th, 2020.
- YMCA is offering free Community Volunteer Income Tax Program virtual tax services in Hanover and Owen Sound. They typically do 500/year and they reported on 26 May they have already done 300.
- South East Grey Community Health Services is offering Community Volunteer Income Tax services as well.
- M’Wikwedong IFC canceled their clinics but are supporting individual clients to file if it is their first time applying for government benefits or need the assessment completed to access services.
Stay well, Jill