Dear Colleagues, 

The Federal Government has released its Building Understanding: The First Report of the National Advisory Council on Poverty on February 23rd. 

  • If progress made towards poverty reduction is maintained, the Government of Canada will meet its overall poverty reduction targets.
  • Impacts of COVID-19 on poverty reduction remain to be seen.
  • The Report offers key recommendations on how to improve poverty reduction efforts to ensure the 2030 target is met:
    • Continue existing measures to reduce poverty
    • Specific measures to address poverty among Indigenous people
    • More inclusive data gathering to support better decision making
    • Incorporate an equity lens in policy development to meet needs of marginalized groups
    • Work with provinces and territories to ensure a robust social safety net that provides benefits at the level of Canada’s Official Poverty Line. 

Almost 1 year ago, many of us met at the Grey Bruce Public Health Unit to discuss the oncoming Pandemic and pending lockdown. We quickly mobilized to ensure ongoing services to our most vulnerable and within the first few weeks of the lockdown many organizations geared up for even more emergency work.   

One aspect of our work has changed for all of us. “Zooming” has now become the generic verb for videoconferencing. And virtual meetings have become our main means of communication. As we move into a 1 year anniversary, “zoom fatigue” has begun to set in but research and supports are out there. 

  • Stanford researchers have examined “zoom fatigue” and released a recent peer-reviewed article
  • With videoconferencing, most cameras have a set field of view, meaning a person has to generally stay in the same spot. Movement is limited in ways that are not natural.Some potential solutions include: 
    • Zooming out of the full-screen option and reducing the size of the Zoom window to minimize face size.
    • Change the default practice of beaming the video to both self and others, when it only needs to be sent to others. Right click on your own photo and use the “hide self-view” button.
    • Consider the room your videoconferencing in, where the camera is positioned and whether things like an external keyboard can help create distance or flexibility. 
    • Turning your video off periodically during meetings is a good ground rule to set for groups, just to give oneself a brief nonverbal rest.
    • During long stretches of meetings, give yourself an “audio only” break. 
  • Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue (ZEF) Scale has been developed to help measure how much fatigue people are experiencing in the workplace from videoconferencing. If you or your staff are interested in measuring their own Zoom fatigue you can take the survey and participate in the research project. 

There are a variety of ways that we honor International Women’s Day.

  • 25% of Canadian women struggle to pay for feminine hygiene products for themselves and their dependents. Hygiene products are expensive and many women go without food and other necessities in order to afford these products.  Not being able to afford pads and tampons is stressful to women and causes great anxiety for many.  It is estimated that a Canadian woman typically spends up to $6,000 or more in their lifetime on feminine hygiene products.  
  • Many food banks report that pads and tampons are the least donated items. Consider donating feminine hygiene products at your local participating grocery store that accepts donations to the local food bank, women’s shelter or organizations such as Safe ‘N Sound.  
  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce announces a new grant for organizations involved with women and girls. The Kelly Graham Legacy Fund invites applications related to the health and wellness of girls and women including their career advancement and success.


  • This year, under COVID19 conditions, the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program(CVITP) is changing how it provides free services. Many local organizations in Grey Bruce will be offering drop-off/pickup, virtual or phone services, or in-person by appointment clinics. Across both counties, there are over 14 listings in 19 cities/towns that offer free tax services in 2021.   
  • The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force works with 211 each year to compile a Free Income Tax Service listin Grey Bruce; to identify local barriers, and to engage with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), community organizations, and volunteers to address those barriers.  
    • Some of these benefits include the Canada Child Benefit, Trillium Benefit, GST/HST Credit, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. 
    • Seniors living on a low income may qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS; Federal) and the Guaranteed Annual Income Systems (GAINS; Provincial). 
    • Entitlement to GAINS is assessed at the same time as GIS. This is not automatic; seniors have to apply to see if they are eligible. You can do this when you first apply for your Old Age Security (OAS) in Section C of the Application for the Old Age Security Pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement (ISP-3550). 
    • If you already receive OAS and want to apply for the GIS, you can apply on your My Service Canada Account or use the Application for the Old Age Security Pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement (ISP-3550). You need to file your taxes each year to reapply for these benefits. 
  • There has been a lot of confusion and fear around filing taxes this year. For people who received any one of the five COVID-19 related benefits, filing your taxes is very important. It is the best way to keep receiving the benefits and credits you are entitled to. The government is going to make sure those who are eligible still get these benefits for the near future. 
    • If you do owe on your taxes and made less than $75,000 in 2020, the government is extending the time you have to pay to April 30th, 2022 and providing 0% interest for the first year. Completing your taxes this tax season is a good way to make sure you get benefits and credits you are eligible for and gives more flexibility and time to pay outstanding taxes.
  • There are CRA grants available for organizations for hosting free clinics. 
  • The government will extend the current rates for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support from March 14 to June 5, 2021. This means:
    • the maximum wage subsidy rate for workers will remain at 75 per cent;
    • the maximum rent subsidy rate will remain at 65 per cent; and
    • Lockdown Support will remain at 25 per cent, providing hard-hit businesses with rent support of up to 90 per cent.
  • Additionally, the government announced that businesses can continue to use pre-pandemic revenue levels (i.e. 2019) when applying for upcoming periods from March 14 to June 5, 2021. Find out more at 
  • The Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is holding a consultation on alternative financial services. There are two ways to participate:
    • The Ministry is seeking feedback on its draft proposals and options intended to strengthen protections for borrowers and improve the regulation of high-cost credit agreements provided outside of traditional banks and financial institutions – such as instalment loans, lines of credit and auto title loans – through a consultation paper posted on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry. You  can download this paper and submit a written response by March 30, 2021 via email:
    • The Ministry is inviting up to two members of an organization to participate in a virtual meeting with the ministry on March 16, 2021, from 1:00pm to 2:30pm, where an overview of the ideas included in the consultation paper will be provided and participants will have an opportunity to ask questions. We welcome the expert advice of consumer and borrower advocates about how to strengthen protections for borrowers of high-cost credit. Jill Umbach will be attending. If you are able to attend, please let her know so she can register you or register yourself by sending the contacts that will be participating to by March 5, 2021.


  • United Way of Bruce Grey invites area charities to apply for funding to support the broader community. Applications can be pandemic or non-pandemic related. DEADLINE: March 19th, 2021 
  • 3 priority areas:
    • From poverty to possibility –  initiatives that meet people’s basic needs for food, shelter and safety; as well as those that ensure individuals have opportunities to seek stable and sufficient employment, and make education, training and learning opportunities affordable and accessible for all.
    • Healthy people, strong communities – initiatives that reduce barriers and isolation for those with addictions and mental-health issues through counselling, referrals, rehabilitation and other services. As well, services that support seniors and individuals with physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities.
    • All that kids can be –  organizations that are supporting the healthy growth and development of young people. This means actively targeting the source of their challenges and working to address systemic issues. 
  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce invites charities and non-profit organizations across Grey and Bruce counties to submit grant applications for Community Grants DEADLINE April 15, 2021. 
    • Projects must benefit the community in one of the following categories health and wellness, arts and culture, education and lifelong learning, living standards, the environment, and community connections.
  • The Community Services Committee for Southampton  Rotary Club  assists financially and in other ways, organizations that have needs such as women’s shelters, First Nations, mental health services, hospitals, palliative care, etc. They are looking to support any organization that may need help. Contact Stewart Nutt,  


  • The Grey Transit Route has extended its route to Sauble Beach. The pilot project will provide service Friday through Monday for the period of May through September. More information about the schedule will be communicated in the upcoming weeks.


  • The Grey Bruce Community Gardens Network purpose is to CONNECT community gardens, local producers, food banks, and end-users to improve and increase food accessibility to fresh produce for the broader community in the Grey-Bruce region. In particular, we are witnessing how COVID-19 has imposed additional food security challenges and brought to greater public prominence, thus spurring the creation of this network. 
  • Their next webinar is on Community Food Gleaning on March 29th, 6:30-7:30pm with guest speakers Simona Freiberg and Ivan Chan.
  • The Owen Sound Seed Lending Library is now open. To order seeds: contact Carolin or 519-376-6623 ext. 214.  
  • West Grey Council has endorsed the Bruce Grey Food Charter.
  • Bruce Grey Food app has the latest data on many community meal programs. 
    • 135,728 meals distributed (10 out of 17 programs)
    • 43,633.56 kilograms of diverted food used (27 out of 40 meal programs/food banks)
    • 8,203 HHs (16,261 people) assisted with 124,034 kilograms of food (17 out of 23 food banks) 


  • Habitat for Humanity ReStores are now open in all locations. In 2021, they are planning to build 8 houses.
  • Rural Urban Migration of Individuals Who are Homeless webinar was held on February 25. A panel discussion sharing experiences and strategies to support individuals moving between small towns and urban centres. If you missed this webinar, you can view the Recording of the webinar.
  • Community Connections/CMHA – 1 vacancy out of 102 apartments, 72 residential units full, wait list continues to grow. Agencies are encouraged to support people to access Assertive Community Outreach which has a shorter waitlist, very focused intervention to ensure safety and will still support people to access housing lists. 
  • By-Names List – just over 30 people on the homeless list which was initiated in mid-January 2021. Numbers are higher than homelessness enumeration count. Very positive coordination and referral system in place. 
  • The United Way has food hamper kits for homeless people obtained through referrals from agencies. These have been designed with kettles that can boil and cook; as well as food. These are being pre-positioned for snow days and designed for people living in motels, without cooking facilities or other precarious situations. 


  • Court warrants are being issued for people who fail to appear in court. Anyone charged with crimes is to appear in court as per their release documents. If they need assistance connecting by video or telephone they can go to Hanover Police Service on the scheduled court date and they will assist you. Please contact your local police station for support to access courts. And a reminder that if someone is involved with the courts, they can ask for a court support worker. Many local organizations offer those supports and then can assist in connectivity for court cases. 
  • The Ontario government is investing $14.3 million in 2020-21 to support nearly 300 Seniors Active Living Centres. These programs will deliver new virtual initiatives to help keep seniors safe and socially connected as they continue to self-isolate due to COVID-19. 
  • This year’s investment will focus on virtual programs such as teleconferences, online videos, one-on-one phone calls to help seniors stay connected from home, and support projects such as:
  • Seniors’ Centre Without Walls to create interactive telephone-based group programming for socially isolated seniors and people with disabilities
  • Virtual physical fitness programming
  • Online craft programs and delivery of pre-made craft kits to seniors
  • Meal programs ranging from curbside pick up to door-to-door deliveries
  • Online educational programs such as tax clinics, technology assistance, health and wellness, and COVID-19 information


Stay well, Jill 

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