Dear Colleagues, 

Day 149, 22 weeks. How is everyone doing? 

Rev David Shearman wrote an article for the Owen Sound Sun Times highlighting some of the data from our Community Updates and he highlights the losses to the nonprofit/charity sector as fundraising events have been canceled in 2020.  We continue to be grateful for government and non-government funding that allows our partners to continue to provide emergency services and other essential services. 

INCOME SUPPORTS 

Across all our partner organizations we have been monitoring the government’s income support and the transformation of the CERB.   

  • The federal government is extending the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) until 27 September, 2020 and revamping the employment insurance program to allow more people to receive financial assistance during COVID-19.  
  • Self-employed or gig workers can apply for a benefit of up to $400 a week for up to 26 weeks if they have stopped working or had reduced incomes due to COVID-19.  They can continue to earn money, but will be required to repay 50 cents of every dollar earned above $38,000.
  • A second new benefit will provide 10 days of paid sick leave to any worker in Canada who falls ill or has to self-isolate due to COVID-19. That will provide $500 a week, and a claimant can’t claim this benefit and another sick leave payment at the same time.    
  • recent report from RBC Economics called the hit on women’s employment  “unprecedented,” with 1.5 million women in Canada losing their jobs in the first two months of the pandemic.  Women’s participation in the Canadian workforce has fallen to a level not seen in decades, and with uncertain school plans and reduced options for child care, some women are not returning to work. 

Basic Income

  • Tamarack and the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction hosted a webinar, Basic Income: Business Perspective, to explore what a Canadian Basic Income would mean for business, the economy, and society. 
  • On Friday, August 14th, UBI Works released a plan called “Recovery UBI” which proposes $500/month tax free for all Canadian adults and a guaranteed minimum income of $2,000/month ($3,000/month for couples).
  • In September 2020, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce will propose a resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The resolution, if passed, will ask the Federal Government to run a Basic Income Pilot and study the costs and benefits of rolling out a national basic income thereafter should that be the findings of the pilot. The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s impetus is to address future labour market disruptions.
  • Sameer Nurmohamed of the Basic Income Canada Network proposes a plan called “UBI-FIT: Using the Tax System to Fund a Basic Income” which proposes an annual Basic Income of $24,000 tax free for everyone and a flat income tax rate of 38%. 

FINANCE EDUCATION 

  • The United Way of Bruce Grey’s Financial Literacy Program Coordinator, in partnership with the YMCA, will be hosting a webinar on Budgeting in Tough Times on Monday, August 24th from 10:00am-11:00am.

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • The federal government will be partnering with Second Harvest, Food Banks Canada and more than 100 food businesses and non-profit organizations to deliver a new Surplus Food Rescue Program
  • Grey Bruce Community Food Programs are connected with the Foodrescue.ca program of Second Harvest via OSHaRE and connected to Food Banks Canada through the local Salvation Army Owen Sound and some other larger food banks who are members. We have created 2 Distribution Hubs to community meals programs via OSHaRE and to food banks via The Salvation Army Owen Sound.
  • A new Grey Bruce Community Gardens Coordinator and a Food Security Coordinator have been hired to support more links between partners and the work of these distribution hubs and community-based hubs. Fresh produce has been moving from the Meaford Community Gardens and other local producers to food banks and community meal programs. 
  • Overall, we have seen an increase in food bank usage which is being attributed to the ending of CERB for some individuals. 
  • We have also seen an increase in people at the food banks who have received eviction notices in the last week with very short lockouts times (2-3 days notice).  People who have received eviction notices should contact the Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic immediately or contact Grey County or Bruce County to assist with rent arrears prior to eviction notices. 
  • South East Grey Community Health Centre will be opening up a new Community Cafe in Dundalk at its Erskine Centre.  Newly purchased freezers and kitchen equipment will enable cooking healthy meals, get fit program and a distribution point for ready-made frozen meals (YUM Program). 
  • CMHA Roots Cafe will be opening up soon for curbside service in Owen Sound. Community Gardens have staggered food production and are producing lots of fresh produce for community hot and frozen meals.   

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • The Grey Bruce Health Unit has updated its Considerations for Shelters guidelines
  • As mentioned above, within the last week there has been a large number of eviction notices going out from the Sheriff’s office.  Contact the YMCA Housing, Bruce County Housing, Grey County Housing or M’Wikwedong IFC housing program about rent arrears supports. There is funding to pay arrears and with the low vacancy rates across Grey County and Bruce County it is easier to negotiate with landlords than to re-house people. 
  • Contact the Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic for a stay of eviction. 
  • People are encouraged to “make a winter housing plan” now and that is looking at ability to pay rent, pay utilities, etc. and contact 2-1-1 or see the Grey Bruce Community housing or utility support services
  • YMCA Housing is organizing “boots to the ground” meetings with partners to increase lines of communication/protocols between housing partners.  Recent joint wellness checks of tent encampments in Owen Sound raised no major concerns. 
  • Several housing agencies and the Grey Bruce Health Services reported an increase of out-of-region clients seeking housing and other support services in the last month.   
  • Transitional housing: M’Wikwedong IFC is busy on new transitional housing for Indigenous communities. Safe ‘N Sound is updating its transitional housing program. Grey County has a wait list of over 600 people waiting for social housing and are always looking for investment dollars for transitional/second stage housing.  

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • The Guelph Owen Sound Transportation, (‘GOST’) transit service will begin operations on Monday, August 31, 2020.  The service will operate seven days a week.  The route will start from the Owen Sound Transit Terminal and stop at Chatsworth, Williamsford, Durham, Mount Forest, Arthur, Fergus and Elora before arriving at the final destination of Central Station in Guelph. The service will be provided by Voyago, who will use a brand new, fully accessible 20+2 passenger bus.

CHILD YOUTH SUPPORTS 

  • Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr Ian Arra will join Lori Wilder, Director Bluewater District School Board and Gary O’Donnell, Director Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board for a Facebook Live forum on safe and successful school re-opening. 
  • The event will be hosted on the Grey Bruce Health Unit Facebook Live page starting at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 26, 2020. The session will be recorded and made available on the Grey Bruce Health Unit YouTube channel. 
  • Questions for the participants can be forwarded to the Grey Bruce Health Unit through Facebook message, through the ‘Contact Us’ page on our website, or by email to publichealth@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.

Stay well, Jill 

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