Dear Colleagues, 

Some weeks are just rough. 

At our Emergency Housing & Homelessness virtual meeting this week we acknowledged that some First Nation communities are in crisis.  And that racism and health equity issues are still presenting barriers. 

We know that so many of us have been working non-stop since the start of the pandemic and we are tired.  Dr. Donald Cole, Grey Bruce Public Health,  reminded us to “focus on resilience in the face of discouraging trends and hard realities.”  We were reminded that so much of the rapid emergency response we have sustained and will continue to provide is built upon the strength of our working relationships. These have been forged over many years and across both counties.  
We do find hope and inspiration with the collective actions of partners.  An open letter from Ian Reich, Public Health Manager, GBHU to the public also reminds us to be kinder to people who test positive for COVID 19. 

“We are in this together, and we must all lean on each other. Now is not the time to get angry and bully each other. Now is the time to carry each other through tough times, knowing that we may need assistance, encouragement and support at some point in the future. Let us collectively fight this pandemic as a united community. The only way to do this is by understanding, and being sympathetic to each other’s situation.”  

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Housing, Outreach & Wellness Grey-Bruce (HOW Grey Bruce): is open in the former Owen Sound Downtown Improvement Area location, 854 2ndAve. E.  Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The aim is to improve access to mental health and addiction services by being downtown, where many who need help are, with greater integration of agencies that can help and address the increasing number of homeless people in Owen Sound.  
  • YMCA Housing has provided 4,500 nights of shelter, sheltered 692 people and moved 172 people into more permanent housing.   
  • Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce: is now accepting applications for home ownership in Hanover. Deadline for applications is Dec 7th, 2020. If anyone has questions, you can call Rachelle @ 519-371-6776 ext 101.
  • The 2020 Ontario Budget for 2020-2021 was released (up to March 2021) includes an investment of $510 million through the Social Services Relief Fund to help municipal service managers and Indigenous housing partners protect homeless shelter staff and residents, expand rent support programming and create longer-term housing solutions. 
  • The budget did not include any new specific measures for early years and child care, housing and homelessness, or social assistance, beyond what was announced prior to the budget.  

INCOME & EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

  • At-home schooling costs: The 2020 Ontario budget renews funding to help parents with the added costs of at-home education (workbooks, school supplies and technology). The program consists of $200 per child under 12 and $250 per child or youth with special needs.   
  • Backpacks and school supplies: the United Way of Bruce Grey still has backpacks available for any student in Grey Bruce. Contact the office directly. 
  • Janice Bye Memorial/Community Foundation GB have an award of $1,500 (or smaller amounts if more than one student chosen) for special needs students in Grey or Bruce.  Deadline is November 25th.  Click here for more information and application.  
  • Leads Employment Services Options Program:  for youth with disabilities and barriers facilities paid group training and supported placements. They are struggling to find placements and spaces in rural communities for clients. Therefore the program is being offered virtually. If aware of any available opportunities and spaces to meet clients, please reach out to Tracey Leroux.    
  • Seniors tax credit: The 2020 Ontario Budget includes a new tax credit to help seniors live in their homes longer. It will reimburse them for 25% on eligible renovations of up to $10,000, regardless of their income and whether they owe taxes for 2021. 
  • The government says the minimum credit will be set at $2,500. The temporary measure can be used for things like installing wheelchair ramps, non-slip flooring, and additional light fixtures. 
  • Old Age Security (OAS)/Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) Alert: More than 30% of Canadian seniors 65+ are eligible for GIS payments, on top of their OAS pensions. But as of last month thousands had not yet filed their 2019 tax returns, which puts them at risk of having their GIS payments interrupted in January. This reminds everyone of our Free Community Income Tax Services for Grey Bruce.
  • The Chartered Professional Accountants Canada commissioned a national survey ‘2020 Canadian Finance Study‘. According to the survey:
    • 1/3 of Canadians say the stress associated with money management has increased due to COVID-19
    • 31% of respondents say their income has decreased as a result of COVID-19
    • 30% report COVID-19 has reduced the amount they are saving
    • 55% say they are spending less, on average
    • 21% of pre-retired respondents say they now plan to retire later as a result of COVID-19

INDIGENOUS SUPPORTS AND RELATIONS

The Federal government announced over $200 million in new funding to provide support to Indigenous peoples and communities. The funding includes: 

  • $120.7 million to help Indigenous early learning and child care facilities safely operate during the pandemic. The investment is expected to support over 35,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation children. This funding will be co-managed through existing early learning and child care partnerships. 
  • $59 million for First Nations to adapt their on reserve community infrastructure. First Nations can use the funds to implement public health and safety measures. 
  • $25.9 million to provide immediate support to Indigenous post-secondary institutions in 2020-21. 

HEALTH EQUITY

  • A new report by Public Health Canada – From Risk to Resilience: An Equity Approach to COVID19 reveals that COVID-19 pandemic affects us all, the health impacts have been worse for seniors, essential workers, racialized populations, people living with disabilities and women.  
  • The Vibrant Communities – Cities Reducing Poverty 2020 Impact Report captures national trends in poverty reduction and the important ways in which member Cities Reducing Poverty collaboratives are contributing to those changes.

FOOD SECURITY 

  • Meals to Motels: 4,274 meals todate have been delivered from OSHaRE by Habitat for Humanity and through shelter referrals from the YMCA Housing. 
  • Close to 75,000 meals have gone out with 5 partners since March 2020. 
  • foodbrucegrey.com data entry is ongoing and providing a picture of how much food that community food banks, meal programs and gardens have distributed. 
  • The Keeping Not-for-Profits Connected under COVID 19 continues to distribute surplus food throughout Grey Bruce. Emergency boxes from Feed Ontario/Food Banks Canada and surplus food obtained through foodrescue are being distributed this week. 
  • Community food programs are preparing for winter with many adaptations to spaces and for Christmas with registration for hampers. 

LOCAL RESEARCH

Stay well, Jill 

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