It is that time of year for budgets and taxes!
But while we are promoting the incredible work being done by volunteers and staff under the Community Volunteer Income Program in Grey Bruce we are also mourning the loss of many people to drugs and the increase in overdoses.
- Grey Bruce Public Health is warning people who use unregulated street drugs that they are at significant risk of experiencing an overdose/poisoning due to the local supply containing potentially toxic substances, including the highly potent opioid fentanyl.
- The Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Chief Coroner for Ontario have reported evidence of an increase in xylazine and benzodiazepine in Ontario’s unregulated drug supply. Preliminary data for opioid toxicity deaths in Ontario shows Xylaxine was detected in 2-4% of opioid toxicity deaths between 2021 Q4 and 2022 Q3. Benzodiazepines were detected in 63% of cases in 2021 and 41% of cases in 2022. These have been confirmed in our local supply.
- The GBPH received notification of 2 fatal overdoses and 5 non-fatal overdoses within the past week. Recent awareness events shared that a fatal overdose can happen to anyone.
- Doctrine of Discovery: The Vatican on Thursday formally repudiated the colonial-era “doctrine of discovery”, saying it had been “manipulated” for political purposes by colonial powers “to justify immoral acts against Indigenous peoples that were carried out, at times, without opposition from ecclesial authorities.”
The Federal government released its 2023 Budget: A Made-in-Canada Plan: Strong Middle Class, Affordable Economy, Healthy Future
- Canadian Dental Care Plan: in 2022, the government set up a temporary dental benefit for uninsured children under the age of 12 in families with a household income of less than $90,000. That benefit will end by June 2024. In its place, the government has announced it will provide $13 billion over 5 years starting in 2023-2024, to provide dental coverage for all uninsured Canadians with an annual family income of less than $90,000 or for single Canadians earning less than $70,000. Families that make less than $70,000 will not have co-pays.
- GST Rebate/Grocery rebate: a top-up for low-income families via the GST credit. It works out for a maximum amount of $20/month single and $40/month for family.
- PayDay Loan Interest rates: changes to the Criminal Code will lower the rate of interest from 47% to 35% annual percentage rate.
- Housing: the government proposes $4B over 7 years to implement a co-developed Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy. The government will reallocate National Housing Co-Investment Fund dollars from the repair stream to the new construction stream, as needed.
- The government will directly fund municipalities that submit action plans with a goal to “build more faster,” through methods like accelerating project approval timelines, increasing densification and freeing up unused land – all while keeping affordable housing units in mind as well.
The Provincial government released their 2023 Budget: Building a Strong Ontario.
- Housing: an additional $202 million/year over the next 3 years for Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program.
- Minimum Wage Increase: the Ontario government is increasing the minimum wage to $16.55 an hour on October 1, 2023. This 6.8% raise for low-income workers is to offset the rising cost of living.
LOCAL SERVICES AND ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
- Free Income Tax Clinics in Grey Bruce: filing income tax returns is critical to accessing new benefits coming from the government. In 2022, the CRA reported 2,430 individuals were assisted to file 2,640 tax returns by 14 community organizations in 20 locations across Bruce County and Grey County. The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force has created a 211 listing @ freetaxclinics.ca or people can call 211 and find a clinic near you. For those in the Owen Sound area, MP Alex Ruff’s office offers assistance in booking appointments, 519-371-1059.
- Bruce County Libraries Clinics are by appointment only until the end of April. Contact the Library Branch you wish to attend directly to book your appointment time by phone, email or in person.
- Four County Labour Planning Market Board: has released several new reports. Employer One Survey Observations 2023, Impacts of Low Unemployment, March 2023; Local Labour Market Plan 2023, and Re-Engaging Retreated Workers Survey 2023.
- NEW from the Maytree Foundation: Reducing poverty among minimum wage workers in Ontario: The potential impact of the Canada Working-Age Supplement
- The National Advisory Council on Poverty is seeking new members. They are recruiting across all positions, including 6-8 general members with lived/living expertise of poverty. The positions are paid. Applications are due by April 14th. To apply visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/poverty-reduction/national-advisory-council/members-call-2022.html
- Grey Bruce Food Share (GBFS): a new, formal partnership of OSHaRE and The Salvation Army Owen Sound will start this summer. It will be located at 263 10th Street East in Owen Sound across the parking lot from OSHaRE.
- During the pandemic, an informal Grey Bruce Food Distribution Network for Not-For-Profits was in place. This new formal partnership will bring food sharing to a new level by contributing surplus food items to other charities and non-profits across Grey Bruce. GBFS will continue to support over 25 local food sharing agencies who support families and individuals struggling with food insecurity.
- OSHaRE is Grey Bruce’s largest recipient of Second Harvest’s Food Rescue. On average OSHaRE rescues over 11 tons of food monthly and The Salvation Army approximately 3 tons. The Salvation Army will use the fresh produce from GBFS to implement Grey Bruce’s first “Fresh Food – Food Bank” – a healthy shift in food options provided to some 700 participants in need.
Stay well, Jill