29 September 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

Last week the Federal government opened up Parliament with a Throne Speech from the Liberals. They announced 4 priorities: 

  • fighting the pandemic and saving lives; 
  • supporting businesses and people through the crisis; 
  • building back a more resilient Canada; 
  • and standing up for who Canadians are.

The Throne Speech proposes important investments, in climate action, childcare and pharmacare.  The government promised to extend the pandemic wage subsidy, create a million new jobs and establish a national child-care strategy, signalling a shift toward longer-term support for Canadian businesses to keep employees employed; and support to tourism and the arts.   

The government still plans to pursue some pre-existing commitments, including implementing national pharmacare, restricting handguns, improving rural broadband access, and investing in public transit and energy efficient retrofits.

Trish Hennessy article After the throne speech: a test of our resolve points out the fact that there was “only one mention of low-income Canadians and one mention of poverty. Even something as basic as addressing the inadequacy of the minimum wage in Canada goes without mention.” 

“But the bottom line is this: if the throne speech passes a confidence vote, all eyes will be on the next economic update, to see if it’s more than words and actually invests in transformative change.”

INCOME SUPPORTS  

With the end of CERB on Oct 3rd, 2020, many people are anxious about support payments. The government did not announce a Basic Income model in the Throne Speech but under Bill C-2 propose a new suite of measures aimed to transition people from the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) to an employment insurance program with expanded eligibility, or to one of three new recovery benefits.

  • It is anticipated that most people currently on the CERB program will be rolled into an expanded EI if they meet the qualifications. These qualifications have been expanded to include more people than usual.
  • Minimum hours required to receive EI have been set at 420 hours in the last 52 weeks. People will receive a minimum of $400/week.
  • If you do not have 420 hours but do have a minimum of 120 hours, the government will do a one-time top up of 300 hours to get you to the 420. 
  • This top up will be automatic if all of your Records of Employment are in your My Service Canada account. 
  • It is recommended to check My Service Canada accounts to make sure all ROEs are logged and check the hours for the last 52 weeks. 
  • If people receive CERB through Service Canada, the switch from CERB to EI will be automatic. 
  • If people receive CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency, they will need to apply for EI through Service Canada. 
  • A new income support program is in the works, the Canada Response Benefit (CRB), which is designed to cover gig, freelance and contract workers who don’t qualify for EI. That was previously slated to pay $400 a week, but the Liberals bumped the amount up to $500 after Thursday’s throne speech.       
  • Bill C-2 also provides for a 10-day sick leave benefit.  
  • The Throne Speech promises a new national disability benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors.  
  • The federal government also announced a free, automatic tax filing system for simple returns — a policy change meant to provide government benefits to qualified people who don’t collect them now because they skip filing their taxes. 36 countries, including Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, already permit return-free filing for some taxpayers

Ontario’s minimum wage adjustment scheduled for October 1, 2020, after a 34-month freeze, will still fall below Statistics Canada’s low-income measure of poverty. 

  • Fight for $15 and Fairness states that with the lower wage and loss of sick benefits workers are being unfairly treated. 
  • The Federal government has promised to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 in 2020 and ensure annual adjustments to keep up with inflation. 

EMERGENCY FUNDING 

The Emergency Community Support Fund (ESCF) is back for Round 2! United Way of Bruce Grey and the Community Foundation Grey Bruce are now accepting funding applications for the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF). 

  • The Government of Canada’s $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) aims to help charities and non-profit organizations adapt and increase frontline services for vulnerable populations during COVID-19. 
  • The Government of Canada is releasing the balance of the $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) in a second round of funding ($73.9 million).  Applicants can begin submitting applications October 5, 2020.
  • They are looking for specific projects for people with disabilities as well as women and girls. But they are not limited to those demographics. 
  • Organizations providing front-line services to vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to apply, including registered charities, and other qualified donees.   
  •  Applications less than $20 000 are encouraged for this round. If you wish to apply for a larger amount, please contact Francesca Dobbyn to discuss, at 519-376-1560. The application will be available for download on October 5, 2020.  Applications will open on October 5th and will end on October 30, 2020 at 3 pm.   Only applications filed through that intake point will be considered.
  • In preparation for the application, organizations can get a head start by reviewing the application questions.  To view or download the pdf, visit:  https://unitedwayofbrucegrey.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ECSF-Round-2-Application-Questions-2.pdf  
  • For more information about the ECSF or the applications process, please visit www.ecsfuwbg.com or www.communityfoundationgreybruce.com for eligibility and application instructions. For more information contact  Francesca Dobbyn 519-376-1560 or Stuart Reid 519-371-7203.  

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • The Federal government has announced the $1 billion Rapid Housing Initiative to rapidly create new affordable housing, including modular homes and acquisitions. This is a step in addressing housing challenges and homelessness. 
  • An additional $236.7 million will be invested through the Reaching Home Initiative whichwill provide support to individuals experiencing homelessness from the impacts of COVID-19. 
  • CMHA has posted for the Housing Systems Navigator position that will be supporting and getting the Homelessness By-names List off the ground. Wanted to share the link as we are trying to generate some additional exposure. Applications due by Sunday.

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • 17 Good Food Boxes announced a refresh for September with increased protective measures related to COVID-19, such as hand sanitizers, masks and distancing practices. About 145 volunteers across Grey Bruce run local programs. 
  • Anyone in Grey Bruce is encouraged to order the boxes. More orders create greater discounts through bulk purchasing. The boxes are pre-ordered for $16-$20 each and packed by volunteers on the distribution date. Community members can find information on a Good Food Box location close to them on 211 or visit Good Food Box
  • sponsoring system is also in place, allowing organizations and businesses to purchase boxes for clients. Sponsored boxes can be purchased through the Owen Sound location, OSHaRE, but are available for all Good Food Box locations. 
  • September 30th is Orange Shirt Day.  
  • To mark the Orange T-Shirt Day, the Nawash Family Well-Being Program is sponsoring a “Stop and Grab” take-out lunch at the Maadookii Fire Keepers Lodge. 

IMPACTS of COVID19 Studies/Surveys

  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce, supported by RBC Future Launch, will be hosting two online interactive Vital Conversations with Young Adults on October 20 and 22, 2020.  These Vital Conversations will check in with people between the ages of 18 and 30 on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, their readiness for a changing work environment, their economic and holistic wellbeing.  
  • Participants can join one meeting or sign up for both. Input from participants will be reflected in future Vital Signs work being prepared by the Foundation. To register or for more information, please visit: https://communityfoundationgreybruce.com/post/?ID=222
  • Queen’s University is surveying Indigenous Youth and Adults (16 years and older) on their social and emotional experience of COVID19. Access the survey here
  • The Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation is hosting its 2020 CRRF Virtual Conference: Supporting Rural Recovery & Resilience on Oct 1st and 2nd. This is a free event.  Register here.

SETTLEMENT SERVICES

  • Grey Bruce Settlement Services also looks forward to continuing to offer a full range of services to newcomers despite the current restrictions.  
  • Grey Bruce Settlement Services began delivery of a full slate of LINC English as a Second Language (ESL) classes on September 8, 2020. Levels offered are from Literacy to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 6. Classes are currently online-afternoon and evening, until restrictions are lifted to allow for in-class delivery.

Stay well, Jill 

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