Dear Colleagues, 

A recent Tamarack Institute Community Of Practice call asked members what were we planning for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – October 17th, 2020?  How were we participating in this global #EndPoverty campaign? 

International days are opportunities to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.

This year marks the 28th anniversary of the declaration by the General Assembly, in its resolution 47/196 of 22 December 1992, of 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.   This year’s theme has not been announced by the UN yet. The 2019 Theme was “Acting Together to Empower Children, their Families and Communities to End Poverty” and I feel that we could add “under COVID19 conditions” and we would have our theme for 2020.  

Many rural poverty reduction tables were on the Tamarack call and the answer to the question for many was – “What? We are still busy responding to emergency shelter and food issues. We are too busy working on meeting peoples’ basic needs in the community while ensuring people stay safe, when do we have time to advocate for an end to poverty?” 

However, with every short-term “band-aid solution” partners deliver, the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force partners have given thought to long-term solutions.  Our new Impact Report 2020 lists our collective priorities and we know that income solutions are critical.  

  • Maytree policy team suggests Five Good Ideas for Income Supports in a post-CERB Canada:  If we are going to shape a future that recognizes the inherent dignity in everyone, and reduces inequities across race, gender, and income, we need to think beyond traditional economic and social policy thinking from decades past, and move into a post-CERB world. 
  • A Just Recovery For All event will be hosted by Tamarack on October 14th, 1-2pm  to examine the COVID-19 crisis and the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic to health, the economy, environment and society as a whole are being experienced by individuals, families and communities across the country and the globe. 
  • new website is being launched by Coalition Canada: basic income-revenu de base  The Coalition is made up of a cross-Canada group of experienced and knowledgeable activists associated with the Ontario Basic Income Network.  
  • A current major initiative involves developing relationships with Members of Parliament from local constituencies, building towards a (virtual) Lobby Day/Week on Parliament Hill, October 20-22. They invite agencies to visit their website to learn more. 

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • CERB payments: there is a delay in payments for September. Most people are accustomed to receiving the payment by direct deposit within 48 hours of reapplying for it.  Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has introduced new due diligence measures to ensure cheques are reaching the correct bank accounts. People are expected to receive cheques in their accounts by September 4th, 2020.  
  • CEWS Audit – The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is undertaking an audit pilot project to review the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and assess if fraud is a widespread issue. CRA says it has detected a few illegitimate claims but that the “vast majority” of first checks came back clean. 
  • 2020 T4 reporting requirements for Canadian employers – CRA is requiring that all Canadian employers report employment and retro-active payments on T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid slip for defined periods under new codes. The periods align with COVID-19 benefit periods. These reporting requirements are in addition to the existing requirement to report employment income in Box 14 using Code 71. 
  • Mortgage payment deferral programs are ending. 

EDUCATION SUPPORTS

Parents and teachers are focused on Safe Return to Class guidelines, mental health supports and physical safety of students and teachers.  

  • The Ontario government released itsOperational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools which aims to help schools identify and isolate COVID-19 cases, prevent and minimize outbreaks. The Guidelines call for daily screening of children by their parents, school boards to keep their communities informed and protocols to trigger various levels of public health responses or infection control measures.  
  • Local school boards have released each of their respective Back to School plans. Dr. Arra and the Directors of Education from 2 Grey Bruce School Board met with parents via zoom last week to answer questions about what is being implemented locally. 
  • The Grey Bruce Health Unit has a dedicated COVID19 page for Parents and Families where you will find the latest management plans and protocols. 
  • The Chief Medical Officer of Health also issued, COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management to support public health units in investigating cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks, a protocol for dealing with students who become ill and determining whether a class or school must be closed.
  • The government intends to surveillance test asymptomatic secondary students. Students will not be required to get a COVID-19 test even if they’re sent home with symptoms. 
  • Social distancing in classrooms is still a question for parents and concerns about intergenerational transmission (grandparents and students) once kids go back to school.  These new guidelines do not cut or cap class sizes.
  • The federal government announced up to $2 billion in support for provinces and territories through the Safe Return to Class Fund. The funding is meant to support adapted learning spaces, improved air ventilation, increased hand sanitation and hygiene, and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. 
  • The Ontario government announced $381M in federal funding for back to school initiatives, allocated as follows: $200M for implementing reopening plans; $70M for student transportation; $12.5M to enhance special education and mental health supports; $12.5M for additional Public Health nurses; $36M for remote learning; and $50M for future pandemic learning needs.
  • United Way 2020 Backpack Program:  2,600 backpacks have been ordered and are currently being distributed. There remains available backpacks for families. 2-1-1 is no longer taking orders. Please call the United Way office @519-376-1560 if families have not registered or haven’t heard from the program. 
  • The United Way cannot guarantee that we can get backpacks to towns outside of Owen Sound. We are looking for people who are travelling to various locations because our community partners are not open. 

   CHILDREN/YOUTH SUPPORTS   

  • The Grey Bruce We CARE Project in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, on September 10th, is offering awareness kits to the community which include a window poster, sidewalk chalk, positive messaging mirror stickers, a battery operated candle for your window, a colouring contest and a double-yellow awareness ribbons. 
  • If your family, business or organization would like a kit for your location, please email jralph@cmhagb.org.  For more details on the colouring contest, please visit www.facebook.com/thegreybrucewecareproject  
  • Partnership for Kids Grey Bruce: In the 3 months of this initiative, 551 children received a new toy, craft or game to help mitigate the negative mental health effects of isolation during the early stages of COVID-19.   
  • The Scenic City Order of Good Cheer and volunteers from Martin School Transit and The Rocking Horse traveled over 10,000 km across our vast geographic region of Grey and Bruce to deliver the toys to the children.  
  • The GO FUND ME page and additional donations raised $33,210.00, which went directly to the purchase of good quality toys, crafts and games for those most in need children.  

Stay well, Jill 

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