When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020, the Tamarack Institute and its members – including the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force – had been celebrating Canada achieving the lowest level of poverty in the country’s history. However, in 2020 and 2021 many of the successes around poverty and inequality reflected in Canada’s Official Poverty Dashboard have been reversed.
- Tamarack Institute’s Communities Ending Poverty Impact Report reports from community stories that income, housing and food insecurity have risen; there is a decrease in physical, mental and emotional well-being; and developmental losses for toddlers 6 years and under are being experienced. With the end of the CERB, emergency savings are depleted and the number of low income individuals and households are increasing.
- Children’s Mental Health Ontario reports a disturbing increase in mental health disorders of children and youth through the pandemic. Many are dealing with complex mental health issues beyond anxiety and depression.
- Enhanced access to customary care arrangements: the provincial Government is taking action to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in the care of children’s aid societies through amendments to Ontario’s Child, Youth and Family Services Act so children and youth can remain closer to home, helping ensure they remain connected to their culture and traditions.
- Housing Outcome for Rural and Urban (Off Reserve) Indigenous Peoples: has released a new Research Insight report. The project revealed 4 outcomes, which are described in detail in the Research Insight:
- Among Indigenous peoples, perceived general and mental health is better for homeowners. The same holds true for those with affordable and adequate housing.
- Indigenous youth living in multigenerational households are less likely to attend school. This is mitigated by homeownership and housing suitability and increased household income.
- Homeownership is associated with a greater likelihood of participating in the labour force and having full-time employment.
- Indigenous children living in subsidized rentals are most likely to speak an Indigenous language regularly at home. This is followed by children living in market rentals and then by those in owned dwellings.
- M’Wikwedong Indigenous Housing Support Program: are seeing on average 95 clients/month.
- YMCA Housing: provided 1,048 nights for 141 households housed in February 2022.
- Safe N Sound: in 2021, SNS gave out 200+ tents and over 1,000 sleep bags. A reminder that there are laundry facilities at SNS and laundry soap available. Over the next 6 weeks, South East Grey CHC will be carrying out drop-off income tax clinics with guests.
- Homelessness Prevention Program: the provincial government is investing an additional $25 million annually to help more people experiencing or at risk of homelessness find the right housing services and other supports. As of April 1, 2022, three existing programs will be combined: Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, Home for Good, and the Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program. The new investments can be used to fund the operation of supportive housing units created through the province’s $1 billion Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF).
- Grey County Housing Task Force: received a report today on progress of new supported housing build and exploring the use of public land for housing.
- Naloxone Kits in the workplace: the provincial government has introduced legislation that will require workplaces that are at risk of a worker opioid overdose to have naloxone kits.
- Needle Syringe Program site at Grey Bruce Health Unit (101 17th St E Owen Sound) has reopened. Open 8:30am-4:00pm, Monday to Friday.
FOOD SECURITY SUPPORT
- Love You No Matter What tailgate soup kitchen; are now providing meals for up to 80 people each Sunday both downtown Owen Sound as well as at area motels. Since November 2021, they have served about 750 meals.
- Eat Local Grey Bruce: has found a new home in Meaford.
- School food literacy: the provincial government announced food literacy will be mandatory for all Ontario students in grades 1-12 to ensure that students are given opportunities to grow food, prepare food and learn about local foods.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION SUPPORT
- Anti-Racism Consultation: The provincial government launched a review of the province’s Anti-Racism Strategic Plan. Under the Anti-Racism Act, 2017, the government is required to review Ontario’s Anti-Racism Strategic Plan at least every five years.
- Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate is leading this review, through online consultation and community engagements. You can submit your feedback by completing the online survey by May 4, 2022 or emailing a written submission to ARDReview@ontario.ca by May 4, 2022.
- Seniors Community Grant Program the provincial government announced funding of $6 million in 2022-23 for seniors-based projects that help Ontario’s seniors stay safe, healthy, active and connected to families and friends in their communities. Applications are open until April 28, 2022, at Ontario.ca/getfunding for community organizations, municipalities and Indigenous organizations.
- Ontario Good Roads Conference: Bruce and Grey counties will be requesting delegations with the Minister of Infrastructure at the 2022 Ontario Good Roads Conference to talk about the challenges of providing public transportation in rural communities.
- The delegation and request to the minister would ask the Ontario Government to investigate and report back on the potential to extend the Community Transportation Program, with the aim of developing a comprehensive Provincial Rural Transit program.
- Ad Hoc Transportation Action Group: The Poverty Task Force will be calling an Ad Hoc Transportation Action Group meeting to discuss ongoing issues ranging from challenges with transit routes & accessibility, volunteer drive programs, etc. under COVID19. Contact Jill Umbach if this impacts your work and are interested to join the discussion.
Stay well, Jill