Keeping our family and friends safe this Christmas is a priority for all of us in the community. As we move into the “season of giving” let’s also think about how we can support organizations on the frontlines by donating our time or financial support safely. Consider simple ways we can reach out to an isolated senior or take care of our own financial (and mental) health this season.
While organizations providing Christmas support this year have had to change their ways of distributing support it is incredible how much the community is giving to ensure that people have enough.
Right now community food programs are focused on registering families and individuals for Christmas hampers, meals and toy drives.
- We saw a sharp increase in demand for most community food organizations in October and an increase in numbers registering for hampers, meals and toys at Food Banks as well as an increase in numbers accessing the food bank for the first time in November. Over 100,000 meals have been served since March 2020 and November numbers have not been included.
- People can call 2-1-1 or search on 2-1-1’s Information Grey Bruce to find out what is available in your local community and find out how to register for Christmas programs. Programs require registration for hampers and toys! Please check for deadlines!!
- Bruce Power has released new funding for social programs under its Be the Light Campaign: Beating COVID19 Together. Bruce Power is making a $350,000 contribution in grocery gift cards to schools, county housing services, long-term care homes and women’s shelters. Of that $350,000 – schools, county housing services, and women’s shelters will distribute 3,000 grocery store gift cards to help those in need; $100,00 to school breakfast club programs and $10,000 towards winter coats.
- Bruce Power has also launched an online fundraiser with the United Way of Bruce Grey to collect cash donations in place of Bruce Power’s annual on-site toy drive. They say it has raised $27,000 for nine local toy drives and hamper programs.
- Parents of children aged 12 or younger will again be able to receive a one-time payment of $200 per child, and $250 for children 21 years of age or younger with special education needs. Payment should be received before Christmas.
- The Grey Bruce Free Community Volunteer Income Tax Clinics are listed on 2-1-1. Throughout the year some organizations are offering filing services.
- Prosper Canada is hosting a one-hour webinar on adapting to a virtual tax clinic model on 2 Dec 2020, 1-2pm. Register now to hear speakers from the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP/CRA) about key considerations for Canadian practitioners operating tax clinics in 2021, as well as how to access CVITP program training and support.
- This year, due to the implications of the extension of the CRA tax filing deadline, many seniors in receipt of the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), Allowance or Allowance for the Survivor benefit, have not yet submitted their 2019 income tax information.
- Since GIS and the Allowance are paid, in normal circumstances based on the previous year’s income, these clients would have had their benefits discontinued July 2020 if not for interim measures approved for July to December 2020.
- Clients are encouraged to submit their income information as soon as possible, so as to avoid any interruption in the payment of GIS, Allowance or the Allowance for the Survivor in January 2021. During the week of October 5, 2020, Service Canada sent reminder letters and Statement of Income forms to clients in receipt of these benefits whose income information for 2019 had not been received.
- If community members or individuals do not have access to the internet or face other barriers, the Service Canada Outreach Support Centre will ensure they get access to the critical benefits they need. Client can call the toll-free number (1- 877-355-2657) TTY: 1-833-719-2657 from 8:30am to 4:00pm Monday to Friday. If you have any questions, please email ESDC.ON.CSE-ECC.ON.EDSC@servicecanada.gc.ca
- A recent Income & Employment Action Group discussion focused on protecting vulnerable people from the predatory nature of payday loans. Loans Canada recently posted an analysis on how vulnerable people are under COVID19. With growing financial distress due to COIVD-19, a report by a CCPA political economist and senior researcher says the Government of Canada needs to tighten the regulations around payday lenders including “[axing] interest rates at once and [requiring] banks to offer adequate and inexpensive services to low-income households”. This is a necessary step to protect the most vulnerable Canadians from falling victim to the predatory nature of payday loans.
- SWIFT Network: More than 3,900 households and businesses to see improvements in broadband internet services in the municipalities of Meaford and West Grey and throughout the Townships of Chatsworth, Georgian Bluffs and Southgate.
- The newly announced projects will collectively service more than 230 kilometres of underserved roads to deliver high-speed connectivity to many more residents living in Grey County
- Safe N Sound is now open evenings from 5-9pm to provide staff and space around emergency shelter as of today. About 35 to 45 people a day stop into The Space to seek help with things like emergency shelter and harm reduction. There are at least 25 people who are homeless and still living in tents in Owen Sound. The YMCA Housing works with Safe N Sound and Grey County to provide transitional and longer-term shelter.
- This month, the CMHA has expanded its Mobile Mental Health and Addiction Response Team (MMHART) and is operating it in partnership with the West Grey Police Service, Hanover Police Service, Saugeen Shores Police Service and the South Bruce Ontario Provincial Police Detachment.
- The Meeting Place is conducting informal, in-depth discussions with current long-term and short-term rental homeowners in Northern Bruce Peninsula, to gain perspective on barriers to long-term renting and what’s needed for support and resources for either landlords or tenants to make it work.
- Given the high expense of becoming a homeowner on the Northern Bruce, and the number of housing units available only as short-term rentals, it is becoming increasingly difficult for seasonal workers to find affordable housing. Currently, if there are long-term rentals available, they are extremely difficult to track down and often too expensive for the seasonal worker to obtain.
- By having in-depth conversations with landlords of all types we’d like to see if there is scope for change and the possibility for even a modest transition to both types of rental inventory in the community. If you are willing to be part of the conversion please contact Hazel Smith, Sparks facilitator, to arrange a meeting. All options available: face to face at The Meeting Place or by phone or digitally. Contact Hazel via email email@example.com or call The Meeting Place at 519 596 2313 and leave a message.
- Concerns raised by our Income & Employment Security Action Group about CERB repayments and clawbacks from people on social assistance are increasing. A recent article indicates tenants with low income are struggling to pay the rent.
CHILDREN & YOUTH SUPPORTS
- CMHA is offering the ASK workshop – a training specifically created on how to talk to kids about death and suicide. This training is ideal for service providers, educators and other concerned community members and is being offered at a reduced rate of $100 to residents of Grey and Bruce through the generous funding of the Community Foundation Grey Bruce. For those interested in attending and the fee is a barrier to participating, there are 4 scholarship spaces available for each workshop. To register and inquire about the scholarship spaces, please e-mail Jackie Ralph at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Federal Government announced over $542 million in funding to advance First Nations, Inuit, and Métis engagement to co-develop the implementation of theAct respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, and to assist Indigenous communities and groups in building the capacity to establish their own child and family services systems.
Stay well, Jill