Happy New Year! 

While we all have been encouraged to think that 2020 is over, and we are moving into the homestretch with COVID19 response; 2021 is still packing a wallop to individuals and families in the first week of the new year. Today, the Province announced that elementary school children would return to in-person schooling one week later than planned on January 25th. And this is because the numbers of people testing positive for COVID19 are rising after our Christmas Holidays. 

So what sustains us?  To keep going with our emergency response and deal with the intensification of peoples’ mental health and other needs? To continue riding the rollercoaster with community members with increasingly complex needs? 

BuzzFeed writer Elamin Abdelmahmoud writes in a Hopes Week article thathe learned throughout 2020 that “hope is best understood not as an emotion, but an orientation.”

[Hope] “is a disposition toward the unknown — a state of intentionally turning toward what’s undefined and allowing the possibility that it holds good things to grow and occupy as much as space as the possibility that it does not.   

Hope is not cultivated alone. There is a billion-dollar self-care industry built around the idea that you are in charge of your emotions, and you need only take care of your needs, your exhaustion, your burnout, in order to revive your most hopeful self. But the truth is that we derive as much meaning from serving others and building hope in them.” 


  • The Ontario Government will invest over $77 million to help laid off workers find jobs. Recipients will receive up to $28,000 for training and living expenses. This funding is part of an “updated and improved Second Career program”. Certain criteria means some job seekers will be fast tracked onto the Second Career program:
    • Applicant was laid off on or after March 1, 2020. 
    • Applicant has high school education or less, or was laid off from an occupation requiring no more than a high school education and job specific training, such as food and beverage servers, flight attendants, and retail salespersons.
    • Applicant was laid off from an industry hit hard by the pandemic, such as hospitality and food services, transportation and warehousing or wholesale and retail trade.
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – rate increase to 75% for period beginning Dec. 20, 2020 to March 13, 2021. 
  • Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy extended to March 13, 2021. Tthe new Lockdown Support could boost your rent subsidy up to 90%.
  • Canada Child Benefit for eligible families with children under 6 years will be enhanced (to come out in early 2021).
  • There will be a new simplified “home office expense deduction” for 2020 of up to $400. This flat rate will allow eligible employees to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked at home due to COVID-19 up to a maximum of $400 without a Form T2200 from their employer. 
  • Canada Emergency Business Account loan for small business owners – deadline to apply extended to March 31, 2021.
  • COVID-19: Support for students and parents – Has been expanded to student age 13 to grade 12, including students who are in secondary school that are over 18. Applications for this age range will open January 11th, 2021. 
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: It’s available if you can’t work because you’re sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. The federal government is making changes to the $1,000 sickness benefit, anyone who travelled for non-essential reasons will not be able to access it. 
  • CRA will invest more than $10 million over three years in a new grant program to help organizations providing Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) services offset some of their costs. This fund recognizes the increased costs of supporting clients during COVID-19. 
  • The Income & Employment Action Group is currently updating the Free Grey Bruce Income Tax list for 2021 and currently you will find the listing based on 2020 information for those offering year round service. Please note that the YMCA year round service will be on hold from Jan 20th – Feb 28th as part of the year’s delivery cycle from CRA.  
  • GST/HST payments occur on the 5th day of January, April, July and October as long as your personal income tax is in good standing. When you file your income taxes, you are automatically considered for the GST/HST credit.
  • LEADS OPTIONS Program: starting next cohort on January 4th virtually and are able to support with technology, childcare, and/or any other support a client may require.  Please feel free to reach out to Cassandra if you require any further information.


  • The holidays saw tremendous work being done across Grey County and Bruce County to provide meals, gift cards, toys and shelter during the holiday. Just a few are mentioned here to demonstrate the incredible work carried out.  
  • TVO has featured the work being done by Maxine and Dean Bender’s Chesley Baptist Church Hot Meal program. 
  • Over 70 volunteers and the Queen’s Pub came together to serve 1,140 meals over 2 days in Saugeen Shores and Saugeen First Nation. 
  • As of January 5th, 26 food organizations in Grey County and Bruce County reported over 22,000 volunteer hours in 2020.  And over 125,000 meals were distributed by 10 community meal programs. This data is daily updated at: https://www.foodbrucegrey.com/public-dashboards
  • OSHaRE volunteers spent 7,365 hours in 2020 helping them to share over 72, 792 meals . 102, 826 lbs of food were donated or rescued to use in meals and to share out with other community partners across Grey and Bruce.  235 Christmas meals were delivered in partnership with the Salvation Army on Christmas Day in Owen Sound. 
  • Simona Freibergova is facilitating several upcoming Grey Bruce Community Gardens Network webinars: 
    • How to start a Community Gardens – presenting by Teresa Pearson – date: Feb 8 at 6:30pm 
    • How to create a Food Forest Garden – presenting by Thomas Dean – date: TBD



Stay well, Jill 

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