Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 96

Dear Colleagues, 

On June 24, Premier Doug Ford and his Cabinet were sworn in and the government also announced parliamentary assistants that will support the cabinet. Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Rick Byers has been named Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson has been named Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Both the provincial and federal governments are dealing with inflation rates and the rising cost of living. 

Statistics Canada says consumers paid 9.7% more for food at stores in April compared with a year ago, the largest increase since September 1981. We know the impact is hardest on those who are on fixed incomes. Social assistance rates have not risen to meet the costs and questions are being raised by many community groups. 
Many articles are being written pushing for a post-election focus on poverty related issues. 

Some new measures have been announced to deal with inflation: 

  • Ontario’s rent increase guideline for 2023 has been released at 2.5%, below current rates of inflation. The rent increase guideline is the maximum amount a landlord can increase rent during the year for most tenants without the approval of the Landlord and Tenant Board. Based on Ontario’s Consumer Price Index this should have been 5.3%, however the guideline is capped to help protect tenants from significant rent increases.
  • Gas Tax Rate: effective July 1 until December 31, 2022, the Ontario government announced the gas tax rate will be cut from 14.7 cents/litre to 9 cents/litre, representing a cut of 5.7 cents/litre. 
  • Federal Affordability Plan: Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, announced the Federal Government’s $9 Billion Affordability Plan in mid-June. 

INCOME AND EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT

  • Ontario’s temporary paid sick days and provision of free rapid tests will expire on July 31st, 2022. 
  • 10 – A Guide for Navigating the Future of Work for Youth and Employers:  Tamarack has developed this new guide from a youth perspective to help navigate employment. explores assessing readiness, trending ideas, stories from youth and employers, and provides resources.
  • Launchpad Hanover: has new summer drop-in hours M-F, 10am-5pm, starting July 4th. Summer programs can be found here
  • Library Youth and Children’s Programs 2022: check out each library in Grey Bruce for free summer programs, including West Grey’s Program
  • Grey-Bruce Community Legal Clinic has created a short video which summarizes the Human Rights Code of Ontario and how it applies to sexual harassment in the workplace. 

HEALTH SUPPORTS 

  • Renascent – M’Wikwedong IFC Virtual Intensive Treatment Program: a new hybrid pilot has been successful in delivering an addiction treatment to Indigenous clients in an in-person community based setting at M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre (MIFC).The virtual program includes core aspects of Indigenous culture and spirituality, creating a holistic and authentic approach to each person’s recovery.  For more details contact: Conrad Ritchie, iaaw@mwikwedong.com, 519-371-1147 ex 236.  
  • Supportive Outreach Supports (SOS): has been extended until March 2023. More than 20 partners such as the Grey Bruce Health Unit and local hospitals, county services like paramedic services, social services and housing, local municipalities and other non-governmental organizations such as CMHA, OSHaRE, United Way, Salvation Army and M’Wikwedong IFC have been providing mobile services in Grey County. They are providing a “no-barrier, one-stop shop” to those who need their help.
  • Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey 2021 findings have been released and local school board surveys reflect similar findings amongst Grey Bruce students (Healthy Communities Partnership meeting, June 24th). The pandemic has had a major impact on the health of students and this video outlines the key findings.

 HOUSING SUPPORT

  • By Name List: as of June 29th there have been 421 people added to the BNL and 209 of them continue to be engaged with the homelessness system.
  • Youth Rapid Rehousing Project:  a partnership between the M’Wikwedong, YMCA, CMHA, Grey and Bruce Counties is engaging in a Rapid Rehousing Project focused on low acuity youth (16-24) between July and October 2022. The goal of this program is to support 10 youth in being housed over the summer and early fall by using available resources. Staff involved in this project will be working to engage potential landlords, secure subsidies when available and offer skill development workshops with the youth. 
  • If you are working with a youth that you believe would be eligible for this project please refer them to the by-name list and write Youth RRH in the additional comments section. By referring a client to this program you are agreeing to be involved in supporting the youth in maintaining their housing (in varying capacities). Participation is limited to 10-15 individuals and a referral to this project will not guarantee participation. If you have any questions please email Caitlin.currie@Grey.ca
  • Federal Housing Advocate’s office is seeking submissions from anyone in Canada who has faced inadequate housing or homelessness with the aim of assisting in system-wide change and advancing the right to housing in Canada. 

FOOD SUPPORTS 

  • Food is Our Medicine: is a free online Action Learning Series (15 hours) that focuses on getting more traditional Indigenous food into health care settings as a part of moving forward with TRC Calls to Action.  
  • Grub Hub: The Salvation Army Wiarton is offering free lunch and goodies at Bluewater Park in Wiarton for kids and teens every Tuesday and Thursday,  11:30am-1pm starting July 5th. 
  • Food Rescue: from January 2020 to the end of May 2022 more than 152,000 kg of food has been diverted to help alleviate the symptoms of food insecurity.  That is more than 9500 16 kg or 35 lb bags of groceries; almost 9 fully-loaded Greyhound buses, or the equivalent of 213 cows.
  • Grey Bruce Good Food Box: is expanding its program into summer months. While the program traditionally is not offered through the summer months, several locations will operate in the summer – Saugeen First Nation, Lucknow, Kincardine, Meaford and Markdale. 
  • The current buyer/supplier, Brad McFadden of Paisley, is retiring, and the new buyer/supplier, Justin Hill of Wroxeter, will officially take over in September. The two will be working together, picking up the produce and bringing it for distribution, for July and August.A  211 listing of all 19 locations is available or contact Laura Needham, l.needham@publichealthgreybruce.ca for more details. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 95

Dear Colleagues, 

The messaging from the Bruce Grey One World Festival included a young 14 year old Ukrainian named Nick who shared his music and his gratitude at the offer of peace and security in Owen Sound. The children at the event wrote messages of  “peace” “be brave” and “everyone belongs”. The festival was a wonderful collaboration of diverse people – Indigenous Elders, Newcomers, Pflag and PRIDE members; persons with disabilities, etc. sharing their knowledge and cultures.  

  • June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. 
  • June 27 is Canadian Multiculturalism Day. This day honours the many cultural communities that help build a strong and vibrant Canadian society.
  • Pflag Canada provides information, education, and local support and resources  for anyone with questions about gender identity and sexual orientation. This could be a family member, a friend, or the person themself. The Owen Sound group meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm. Currently they meet virtually on Zoom and are open to all. Contact 1-888-530-6777 ext 570 (toll-free). 

Masking Emergency Orders

  • Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued a statement on the lifting of remaining provincial masking requirements on June 8th. 
  • Businesses and organizations may implement their own rules and policies related to
    masking within their settings, and with consideration to available and relevant infection prevention and control guidance. However, they must follow any applicable laws (e.g. Human Rights Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act) and should obtain independent legal advice should they consider doing so.
  • Masks will be required to continue providing an additional layer of protection for the most vulnerable in long-term care and retirement homes. Masking is recommended in higher-risk congregate living settings, such as shelters and group homes.

HOUSING SUPPORT

A special thank you went out from the Town of Hanover to all the organizations and people that responded to the fire and afterwards. Housing solutions are still being worked on for those affected and displaced. 

  • By Name List (May 2022): In the month of May we saw 3 households move into housing off the By Name List. 47 new people were identified as experiencing homelessness bringing the number of households active on the BNL to 211. Of these 211 households, 163 are experiencing chronic homelessness.
  • Sleeping Rough Solutions: It is becoming clear that “rough sleeping encampments,” once thought to be a temporary problem, are at risk of becoming a permanent policy issue. Rough sleeping has begun to reach emergency status in Canada and solutions are not simple. 
  • Short-term policy options must meet rough sleepers where they are – both physically and mentally – rather than force vulnerable individuals to relocate or seek out services in temporary shelters. Any policy response must recognize the needs of rough sleepers as inherently different from others experiencing homelessness. We can’t simply build our way out of our housing crisis. Policy thinkers at Maytree make the case  that every person needs a home, and it is our government’s job to use all of the tools it has to make sure that people can make that happen. 
  • CATIE Harm Reduction Toolkit: provides foundational information on harm reduction for service providers working with people who use drugs (including support workers, outreach workers, nurses and workers with lived and living experience). The toolkit is free to access and is available to anyone to use or share for personal learning, organizational trainings and/or other capacity-building efforts   

INCOME SUPPORT

With  inflation being the highest it’s been in 31 years, families are struggling to keep up with the high-cost of living. Various consumer research studies are looking at the impact on middle-class households. The lack of “inflation protection” for people with low income, jobs and/or social assistance with no cost of living adjustment (COLA) means vulnerable people will struggle more. 

  • Poverty: A Clinical Tool for Primary Carehas been in use in Ontario since 2016. The tool directs providers to use key questions to assess their patients’ living situations and current benefits. Alberta is now undertaking a similar project called Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain.  
  • Prosper Canada: Benefits Wayfinder is a new tool that will help you find all the supports and benefits available for people living with low income. 
  • Connecting Ottawa: has updated resources Canada Child Benefit resource sheet (May 2022) and Transition Child Benefit (for people who get money from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program, but do not get the Canada Child Benefit, or get less than the full amount of Canada Child Benefit).
  • Child Care: costs are set to come down to $10-per-day by 2025 for parents of young children. And protect child care wages through new minimums and ensure 60% of child care workforce is made up of Registered Early Child Educators by 2026.

FOOD SUPPORT

  • Food Security in Grey Bruce: the United Way of Bruce Grey continues to engage with municipalities on food insecurity and solutions. Data collected at Food Bruce Grey   estimates 40,000 people in Grey Bruce used community food organizations in 2021, out of a population of about 160,000 for the region. 
  • Multiple factors are tied to food insecurity: income inequality, poverty, mental illness, access to skills (including financial and nutritional skills) and racism.  Michael McCain of Maple Leaf Foods states “food insecurity is not about food. The fundamental drivers of food insecurity [are] not food. Canada has an ample supply of food.”  There is a need for people to work for “food secure employers” and earn a living wage. 
  • Eat Local Grey Bruce: is seeking new pickup points. Contact elgbmeg@gmail.com. In particular, in Collingwood, Grey Highlands, Walkerton, Hanover, Sauble Beach and the Bruce Peninsula. Let them know if you have a business, shed or garage in mind. 

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORT

  • Guelph Owen Sound Transportation (GOST): is a public transportation service connecting people from Owen Sound to Guelph and stops in between including Chatsworth, Williamsford, Durham, Mount Forest, Arthur, Fergus and Elora. 
  • Recent changes have been made to the northbound departure times from the Guelph station. The change will allow for more convenient transfers to GOST from GO Transit.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 94

Dear Colleagues, 

The provincial election is over and we were able to use our Income Solutions advocacy to raise the issue of basic income and living wage at many All Candidate Debates. We shall continue to hold space for solidarity on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Power is held accountable within and outside of the ballot box. We shall continue to raise our rural voices and amplify the voices of the most vulnerable in our communities.

This month is Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month. We recognize the rich history of Indigenous Peoples, the resilience of Indigenous communities and the work being done towards truth and reconciliation. This month, take the time to learn and explore Indigenous history. Access resources and join community activities.

  • National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: visit their education hub for additional learning and teaching resources.
  • Indigenous People’s Day – Sacred Fire June 21st, 
  • Giiwe Youth-In-Transition and Housing Sharing Circles invites Indigenous and Non-Indigenous partners to join the upcoming Giiwe in-person circle. Friday, June, 17th, 10am-2pm, Traditional Fire at the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority near Inglis Falls. People are welcome to come and bring colleagues, family and friends. Lunch is potluck and Nadia Ellis (is coordinating all donations.   (nadia.ellis@grey.ca
  • Anishinaabe Giizhigad (Anishinaabe Day) on June 6. To learn more about this new holiday, have a read via Anishinabek News.

We recognize and celebrate the 2SLGBTQI+ community in Grey Bruce. The Grey Bruce Pride have pulled together a list of events throughout the two counties.

HEALTH EQUITY 

INCOME SUPPORT

  • Ontario government support: people who are affected by a fire (and other circumstances), who are not being supported by OW or ODSP can apply for financial support (under $1,000) at: https://ea.mcss.gov.on.ca/
  • Owen Sound Water Rates:  according to a recent study, the average annual residential Owen Sound water/wastewater bill (for 200 cubic metres of consumption) was $1,344 in 2020, in line with the average for other municipalities with water services in Grey Bruce ($1,371). Water and wastewater surcharge rates have been raised which will impact on many people’s ability to pay bills quarterly. However, people can now negotiate monthly payments to make it easier to make payments. 

HOUSING SUPPORT

  • YMCA Emergency Shelter: ·        
    • In 2019, the YMCA provided 2,569 nights of shelter with 214 nights of shelter/month.
    • In 2020, the YMCA provided 6,513 nights of shelter with 543 nights of shelter/month.
    •  In 2021, the YMCA provided 8,380 nights of shelter with 698 nights of shelter/month.        
    • In Jan-Apr 2022, the YMCA provided 3,875 nights of shelter with 968 nights of shelter/month. 
  • Cooling Stations are open in Grey County and Bruce County: contact 211 for the latest listing. 
  • Hanover Fire Response: community partners continue to provide support for tenants who are homeless after the fire. The trauma of the event is still being felt by tenants as expressed in this first person account. But the community and social service partners are doing their best to assist people to find shelter and recover. 
  • People impacted by the fire should contact 2-1-1 for support. These needs will be channeled to the appropriate service agency. 

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORT 

Recent data collected at Foodbrucegrey.com (20 May 2022): 

  • 46,000 community meals were distributed in the 1st quarter of 2022. This is a slight increase over 2021 but with less organizations providing meals. Community meal programs are busier than anytime in the last 20 months. This is driven by the cost of housing and living right now.
  • 21,000 kilograms of food was diverted under food rescue so far in 2022. 17,000 kilograms were diverted in 2021. Please reach out to Paul Wagenaar or Jill Umbach to assist in onboarding new retailers.
  • 55,000 kilograms of food was distributed by food banks. This is a 32% increase over the same period in 2021.
  • 8,000 volunteer hours were donated in the 1st quarter of 2022. Volunteers are largely seniors and they are doing an incredible job. Reach out and thank these volunteers.
  • Community gardens are in the planning and preparation stages for summer production. Food donations and volunteers are tracked for these important programs as well.

Stay well, Jill