Dear Colleagues, 

Please SAVE THE DATE for a Poverty Task Force full-meeting on Friday, October 16th from 10am-12noon.  We shall be hosting a virtual meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17th.  An Agenda will follow with an invitation to join us on zoom. 

COVID-19 gives us the opportunity to rethink how we organize our systems to address the inequities embedded within them. The long-term impacts of COVID-19 on women in the workforce remains unknown. However, with women’s labour force participation at a record low, decades of progress towards gender equality are at stake. 

DIGITAL SUPPORT 

The voices are getting louder and stronger in addressing the increased need for fast, reliable and affordable Internet service for rural residents.  

  • Free Public wifi in Grey County: can be found on the Community and Business Resilience Map 
  • Free Public wifi in Bruce County: can be found on the Open in Bruce Map  
  • Bruce Telecom has partnered with the Municipality of Kincardine, Town of Saugeen Shores, and the Township of Chesley to offer free WiFi at various Outdoor Learning Centres for the 2020/2021 school year.   This will enable people to take online courses, home school and working from home.   

INCOME & EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

  • Leads Employment Services is starting the Options program on October 5th.  This program is funded through Skills Link funding, part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy. The program focuses on youth with disabilities (ages 15-30) who are motivated to work.  Paid group based learning with an employment placement to follow.  See attached flyer. 
  • Leads Employment Services has been back up and running since August and are available to meet clients in person.  They are following all safety measures including extra cleaning of surfaces,  offices, pre-screen form, mask distribution to clients and use of boardroom to meet clients.  

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • We have been very fortunate that we have some key agencies – The Salvation Army Owen Sound, OSHaRE, Habitat for Humanity, United Way Bruce Grey and Grey Bruce Sustainability Network – that have agreed to take on more leadership in the access to and distribution of food to meet the emergency needs of communities across Grey Bruce. 
  • Partners of the Food Security Action Group are moving forward in formalizing Distribution Hubs in order to expand our reach further across Grey Bruce and support smaller community food programs and other non-profits who are offering food in their programs.  
  • Partners are in the process of setting up new communication, administration and distribution channels throughout Grey Bruce with several lead agencies:   
  • Distribution Hub foodrescue.ca fresh produce donations: OSHaREreceives fresh produce donations from grocery stores, restaurants and farmers. Extras are made available for redistribution to community meals programs and food banks. 
  • Distribution Hub for food banks donations:  The Salvation Army Owen Soundis a member of Food Banks Canada and Feed Ontario as well as receiving other food donations. They are able to receive large donations and/or purchase bulk food at significant discounts. 
  • Distribution of fresh produce from Community Gardens:  There are many local community gardens that provide food to food banks and community meal programs. Grey Bruce Sustainability Network/Meaford Community Gardens connects gardeners/farmers as donors directly to community food programs and will also transport fresh produce to OSHaRE for further distribution. 
  • Transportation and distribution support: The United Way Bruce Grey has contracted Habitat for Humanity to transport and distribute non-perishable items such as toilet paper and PPE to food banks. Habitat is also delivering fresh produce to community meal programs and delivering hot meals to people sheltered in motels by the Women’s Centre, M’Wikwedong IFC and YMCA Housing.  
  • Support to Community Food Programs: the United Way has hired a Food Security Coordinator to provide greater support to community food programs in the way of logistics, distribution and access to funding.
  • Ontario School Nutrition Program – Grey Bruce: linkages have been made for community meal programs to aslo share extras with the breakfast club programs. Items for the ‘grab-and-go” snacks are needed. At present, school kitchens are closed, some schools are closed to volunteers and hot meals are not being prepared. Cost saving solutions and partnerships are being built with the program.  

SENIOR SUPPORTS

  • Launch Pad: now offer programs for 55+. Call to register or send an email. T: 519-506-6300 or email at: james@yatc.ca 

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Saugeen Shores Attainable Housing Task Force: 200 people attended the public consultation and launch of the Task Force last night.  
  • They are requesting the public to complete an Attainable Housing Survey.  42% of people who work in Saugeen Shores don’t actually live in Saugeen Shores. So they are encouraging people who live outside to also complete the survey which runs until October 8th, 2020.
  • 24 organizations have agreed to participate in stakeholders’ meetings in October. There will also be community roundtable meetings in November.    
  • Housing challenges in Saugeen Shores include:
    • the short-term rental market (summer tourism) being more lucrative than year round rentals. This has driven the high rental rates and availability. 
    • The median income is over $105,000. 
    • There is not enough housing stock for people to move through all ages and stages of life. It is challenge to find housing for: seniors who wish to downsize, students to move home, young families to afford homes and low-wage workers to live and work in the same town. 
    • COVID19 has meant that many “snowbirds” won’t be leaving for warmer climates in the winter of 2020 and remain in their homes. Thus there will be less rental vacancies. And for some “snowbirds” they may be looking for winter accommodations. 
    • And the area is attractive to retirees and under COVID19 people are moving out of the city.  
  • The objective of the Task Force is to look at solutions for attainable and affordable housing for all ages and income levels.
  • The Ontario government has introduced the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act that would, if passed, freeze rent in 2021 for most rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units. The bill would provide the vast majority of Ontario’s tenants with financial relief as the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery.
  • Housing partners report that many sheriff eviction notices being served now were pre-COVID19 decisions.  
  • The Emergency Housing Action Group members are engaged with the City of Owen Sound to find effective solutions to “hotspots” around the city. While the Council has approved more policing dollars for one particular hotspot there is a need to come up with a more comprehensive plan. 
  • The Grey Bruce Health Unit and the Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy have been releasing stories of substance use to educate the public on the complex nature of addiction and put the faces to the statistics. 

Stay well, Jill 

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