Dear Colleagues, 

Living during times of uncertainty, adversity and change can be unsettling and scary. Living with this as a constant state of living is unacceptable. 

  • Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes worldwide.  
  • Indigenous women make up 4% of the Canadian female population, but roughly 50% of them are trafficking victims.
  • Ontario is a hub for human trafficking, with the most police-reported incidents of human trafficking in the country occurring within the province in 2019, accounting for approximately 55% of all police-reported incidents of human trafficking nationally.
  • The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is approximately 13 years old.
  • Over 70 per cent of human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25.

Ending human trafficking is not something that can be done by one person or one organization. It requires a collaborative effort involving the whole community. Parents, peers, educators, service providers, police, survivors, politicians, business owners, neighbours, family and friends. Everyone can play a role. (Chelsea Donahue)

  • Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the Ontario government introduced the Combatting Human Trafficking Act, new legislation and amendments to existing legislation to build upon the province’s $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy

International Women’s Day, March 8th

  • The Women’s Centre Grey Bruce will be hosting a virtual networking and keynote speaker Ashleigh Weeden. She will deliver thoughts about ‘where to from here’ and crucial services for rural women in Grey Bruce. 
  • Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey and Business to Bruce is hosting Samra Zafar a Bestselling Author, Speaker, Educator for Mental Health & Human Rights. Samra will share her life journey of finding strength in adversity, comfort with uncertainty, and new opportunities during change – by living with purpose and cultivating an authentic personal brand. Register online.


  • 211 Bruce Grey Needs Summary: the latest summary from March 23rd to February 18th, 2021 lists Housing as the highest caller needs.  For years the top call in winter was about Utilities. Seeing housing top that list now, is truly indicating what’s happening out in the community as it relates to the housing crisis. (See Attached List of needs). 
  • Ontario Association of Children’s Aid’s Society Social Services Need survey found: 
    • 2 in 5 Ontarians say that their family/household needs additional support from social service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic in at least one respect, with adult mental health (28%) and extreme financial stress (15%) the most commonly-cited needs. Notably, younger Ontarians, lower-income households and those with children are substantially more likely to report at least one social need.  
    • 4 in 5 Ontarians whose own family or household currently needs support also know at least 1 other family in need of support—twice as many as families that are not in need of support. In fact, 2/3rds of Ontarians who report at least one area of concern say they know several or many other families also experiencing difficulties.  
    • More than 1/2 of Ontarians say they would be unsure how to access the right social services in their community if their own family or another family needed support. Among the 42% of Ontarians already reporting at least one area of need, fully 2/3rds  do not know how to access social services.  


  • The provincial government has released a paper outlining a vision for social assistance transformation.  
  • A new division of labour would see the Province assuming responsibility for financial assistance administration. Municipal governments will focus on life stabilization services to people, including persons with disabilities. 
  • Employment services would be delivered by third party service system managers through the Employment Ontario network. 
  • The government stated that caseworkers spend their time on routine administrative tasks which leaves them little time to help people stabilize their lives, support them into the workforce, or reduce their reliance on social assistance. The average case worker spends a quarter of their day filing and organizing paperwork. Meanwhile, those who rely on social assistance spend their time completing paperwork and qualifying for their next payment instead of activities that lead to independence and employment. 
  • COVID19 Benefits: The Federal government is extending many of its emergency COVID-19 benefits. Sickness benefits, caregiving benefits and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) are all getting top-ups. The Federal government is increasing the EI availability to 50 weeks in total, meaning an additional 24 weeks can be claimed.  The $500 per week Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is increased from covering two weeks of missed work to a new total of four weeks. 
  • 2021 Grey Bruce Regional Job Fair will be hosted on an online career platform connecting job seekers with employers in a seamless experience with one-on-one text and video chats. This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, March 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Job seekers should register for the job fair by March 5th.  Employment service providers will be available to help job seekers update their resumes, build their profile, and highlight their skills for prospective employers. 
  • VPI Inc is letting community partners know of their services and a few of the innovative ways they have been able to continue to support members of our community during this period of change. 
  • Remote job search assistance – Our staff are working from home, but continue to support job seekers with one-on-one guidance. 
  • Canada-Ontario Job Grant – Application support for funding to help reskill staff as local businesses pivot. 
  • Virtual workshops – Online, real-time events hosted through Zoom on a range of topics like, customer service, problem solving, and mental health.
  • Virtual hiring events – Online job interviews coordinated with local employers who are hiring.

The Pandemic has highlighted the disparity in accessing high speed internet. Many agencies are supporting 

  • Grey County Ontario Works: hasprovided a total of 107 laptops to clients in 2020. A further 37 have been ordered. The laptops are used to participate in the online SA mental health wellness initiative, to facilitate computer literacy, for educational purposes (ILC, ACE, GED and Post-secondary), and for job training, searching or preparing for employment, etc. 
  • YMCA Community Initiatives and Employment: Since March 24th 2020, the YMCA OSGB Community Initiatives and Employment teams have loaned 15 laptops through their lending program.  They have purchased 12 tablets and 3 laptops for clients as well as provided 25 cell phones to clients.   The cell phone requests continue to come in.  They have also purchased 1 MiFi for a client to provide internet access. 
  • Grey County Libraries: Both the Meaford and Thornbury libraries have lending programs for clients and the program includes equipment and wifi sticks. 
  • Bruce County Libraries: BCPL will reopen to the public on March 1 and resume offering public internet access by appointment.  
  • They are beginning fundraising for a Bookmobile that will provide wifi access and are investigating funding opportunities for internet hotspots.


  • Safe ‘N Sound Grey-Bruce has housed over 395 people since the pandemic through their Emergency Housing Support Line which is staffed by volunteers 7 days a week from 4:30 to 10 pm.  
  • Safe ‘N Sound Grey Bruce has a new website and their Hard Truths page shares the struggles in our community with the opioid crisis,  mental health, trauma, poverty, sexual/domestic violence and human trafficking.
  • CLEO will host a free Housing and tenants’ rights during COVID19 webinaron February 24th . Register HERE


  • Grey Bruce Good Food Box: Sign up today if your organization is interested in providing free Good Food Boxes to it’s clients! The Grey Bruce Good Food Box will be distributing tokens to organizations for free Good Food Boxes. 
  • The token system has replaced the subsidy and will allow organizations and individuals to pre-purchase GFBs for households in need. The donated/purchased tokens will be distributed to communities through local organizations/agencies. Thanks to Bruce and Grey Counties we are able to provide agencies with a supply of tokens to get started. Contact Laura Needham,, to sign up or learn more.
  • Bruce Grey Food Charter was presented to West Grey Council for endorsement.  
  • Please check out the website for articles, helpful tips and information on Food Knowledge, Food Banks, Meal Programs, and Community Gardens.  

The Tamarack Institute kicked off its Cities Reducing Poverty’s 2021 virtual national summit, The End of Poverty, scheduled for May 5-6, 2021. 

  • The Poverty Task Force has 5 membership seats available to join the summit. Please contact Jill Umbach if you or your organization is interested in attending the summit.   

Stay well, Jill 

Leave a Reply