Dear Colleagues, 

We have been monitoring the impact of the pandemic on employment. Rising unemployment rates in 2020 have reflected layoffs due to COVID19 but things are improving in 2021.  

In June 2020, our unemployment rate for Stratford-Bruce Peninsula Economic Region rose to 9.6% but by July 2021 we are down to 3.6%. This brings us back to pre-pandemic unemployment rates (3.8%, July 2019). 

  • The Four County Labour Market Planning Board reports our unemployment rate and labour force numbers indicate we are moving in a positive direction pointing to steady recovery. 
  • However, employers from our top employment sectors like manufacturing, construction and agriculture continue to need workers in their respective fields. 
  • A lack of immigration has impacted some employers. Traditionally low wages, hard labour and contract work makes it challenging to attract local workers in the agriculture sector. 
  • Some people believe that the attraction of existing government benefits contributes to people not returning to work. Rev David Shearman does the math in this article and other authors speak to wage shortages not labour shortages.

Recently our Income & Employment Security Action Group discussed what are some of the reasons for not returning to work?

  • health risk of returning to work, 
    • especially in customer-facing positions or front-line jobs in sectors like hospitality, retail and the restaurant industry
  • generalized anxiety and distrust related to vaccines
    • uncertainty about the efficacy of vaccines against the Delta variant 
  • a lack of childcare options 
    • In Grey County, 2 daycare centres and 2 homecare providers closed resulting in 70% of spaces being available
    • some summer camps had limited spaces
    • school was out for the summer 
  • online or in-person schooling debate
    • any child with COVID symptoms has to stay home and you can’t send them to daycare or school
  • uncertainty of what is available for schooling options – having to stay home as parents
  • opportunity to take a career change
    • taking time to examine new job options
    • not returning to low wage job or postpone going back in order to evaluate better job opportunities/job search
  • a lack of interest in certain types of work, particularly in the trades.

We also discussed what are some of the things people did while collecting CERB? 

  • recent study of people receiving CERB found that 50% learned a new skill, 42% took an online class, and 10% started a business. This was reflective locally. Employment support agencies saw an increase in participation in training programs. 

While many frontline employees worked throughout the pandemic, we need to consider the dynamics of the “new workplace”

  • heightened anxiety and mental health challenges returning to a workplace
    • being off work or working from home can establish a new routine/sense of safety
    • being laid off and unemployed for a lengthy time affects your relationship with the employer and/or self-confidence  
  • trauma of lockdown conditions and possible Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • economic disparity and job role disparity
    • many entry level jobs, low income and front line jobs did not allow people to work from home 
    • their role and experience of the pandemic is different from those who could work from home


  • M’Wikwedong IFC: will be hosting a “Back to School Walk Through” event at the Friendship Centre on Tuesday, August 24th, 11-2pm. 
  • Canadian Recovery Benefit: Canadians will be able to apply for Canada Recovery Benefit until Sept. 25. Benefits have decreased from $500 to $300 before tax during the summer. 
    • The pandemic-linked enhancements to the Employment Insurance benefits for jobless workers will be in effect until September.
    • Both benefits require that claimants be actively looking for employment while on claim.
  • Bruce County Administrative buildings in Walkerton, Kincardine, Port Elgin, and Wiarton announced they are now taking in-person appointments as well as virtual appointments.


  • Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020, amended the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA). A number of the amendments took effect on July 21, 2020. Other amendments take effect on September 1, 2021. 
    • Currently, the Landlord and Tenant Board (RTA) can only consider an application made by the landlord claiming compensation if the tenant is still living in the rental unit. Claims made after the tenant has moved out must be made at Ontario Small Claims Court.  
    • As a result of the amendments to the RTA, a landlord will be able to claim compensation up to 1 year after the date the tenant moved out for specific reasons including arrears. 


  • Grey Transit Route has approved funding to expand its funding routes in 2022. 
    • In June, the Province announced Grey County and Southgate would receive an additional $1.2 million over 2 years to continue funding most of the GTR routes at current service levels until 2025.
    • The additional county funding would enable Grey to increase from 5 to 7 days per week 3 of the GTR routes – Owen Sound to Dundalk, Owen Sound to Meaford and Meaford to The Blue Mountains – for 2022.
    • More than half of the county funds – $135,000 of the $223,000 – would be used to expand the Grey Road 4 route between Flesherton and Hanover from operating only Mondays and Fridays to running each weekday in 2022.


  • Overdose Awareness Day: M’Wikwedong IFC will be hosting a Sacred Fire Ceremony, Owen Sound on August 31 from 1-3pm.  
  • The event will be a walk-through event. They will also have naloxone kits/training for Direct Service Users and visiting community members. Covid Protocols will be in place. Contact Conrad Ritchie (  519-371-1147 ext 236 or Rachel Paterson 226-568-5242 if you are interested in setting up a booth or discussing the event further.


Grey County is planning to create a more inclusive environment for all individuals. Agency staff and their customers are invited to complete the Age Friendly Survey  

  • Upcoming Public Engagement Sessions: Community Conversation Workshop – Communication and Information, and Respect and Social Inclusion: August 26, 2021 (6:00 pm – 8:00 pm) 
  • Community Conversation Workshop – Civic Participation and Employment, and Community Supports and Health Services: September 1, 2021 (3:00 pm – 5:00 pm)
  • For more information on this project, and to register for sessions, please visit:

Stay well, Jill 

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