Today is May 5th – the national Red Dress Day honouring the memories of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people across Canada. Statistics show Indigenous women continue to disappear and to be the victims of violence at a higher rate than non-Indigenous women.
The House of Commons unanimously backed a motion on May 2 declaring the deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls a Canada-wide emergency — and calling for funding for a new system – a Red Dress Alert – that would use cell phone networks to alert the public when Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ people are reported missing. A similar system, called the Feather Alert Program, already exists in California after it was introduced through Assembly Bill 1314 and became law in 2022.
Show your support and raise awareness – display a red dress in your yard, on your door, in your window, etc. and honour the missing and murdered by attending an event near you. Some events include a ceremony for everyone at Giche Name Wiiikwedong Reconciliation Gardens at Nawash Park, Owen Sound and for members only at Saugeen First Nation.
- Bruce County Transit Survey: Transportation service providers and those who serve clients in Bruce County who are in need of transit to access work, childcare or community services are being asked to complete a public Transit Demand and Feasibility Study.
- Poverty Task Force partners may also be contacted directly to participate in an in-person community stakeholders’ consultation in Paisley on May 17th.
- Ministry Housing Funding: the Ontario government announced Homeless Prevention funding to County of Bruce – $1,536,900 (increased by $599,400) and to County of Grey – $3,282,800 (increased by $1,237,200).
- Grey County Short Term Shelter Program: presented an update on their work to Grey County Council. From October 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023, the Short Term Shelter Program:
- Provided 8,210 nights of short-term shelter at motels. This is a 300% increased capacity of the program from 2021 to 2022
- Had an average of 43 rooms occupied per night.
- Helped 52 households find stable housing.
- Supported 273 unique adults and 23 children
- A Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator has been approved for use in the Town of Blue Mountains to create long-term care beds and affordable housing.
- Bill 23 public consultations: Ontario’s Bill 23 ends the statutory requirement for public meetings in some cases, but Grey County staff report they still have ‘merit’.
- Ontario Human Rights Commission solicited input on the right to housing from stakeholders, service providers, Indigenous organizations, and advocates. Here is what the OHRC learned from that engagement process
- Eviction Prevention: the Wellesley Institute has released a new report Eviction Prevention for Older Persons in Housing.
- Free Income Tax Clinics: while the deadline for filing taxes was 1 May 2023 and most free income tax clinics are finished, there are still free services offered throughout the year. Go to freetaxclinics.ca to find the 211 listing of the nearest free service.
- New Tax Filing Pilot Program: the Federal government has announced it’s beefing up an existing program called File My Return that allows Canadians to file their tax returns by answering a series of simple questions over the telephone. Clients must be invited by the government to do so.
- The government says as many as 12 per cent of Canadians don’t file their taxes every year, most of whom are low-income Canadians. It’s estimated that non-filers missed out on more than $1.7 billion worth of government rebates and programs they were entitled to in the 2015 tax year alone.
- Several dozen countries, including Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Chile, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia, already have tax systems that are largely automated.
Stay well, Jill