Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update #100

Dear Colleagues, 

You are invited to take part in gatherings across the region on August 31st to mark International Overdose Awareness Day. Everyone is encouraged to take part. This is a day to stand in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones while we acknowledge our collective grief and begin to heal together.

  • Grey Bruce IOAD events: many organizations are holding space on this day – M’Wikwedong NCFC, Safe n’ Sound, Peer Advisory Committee, Sasha and Jane Plant, Chippewas of Nawash First Nation Health and Wellness Centre, and Grey Bruce Health Services.  (See the poster for details of events). For more information, please visit website www.drugstrategy.org.
  • Opioid Alerts: the Grey Bruce Health Unit issued a 3rd Opioid Alert to system partners in the month of August, after receiving reports of 5 drug overdoses in the area within a 5 day period. 
  • Newly released data shows that opioids killed more people in Ontario in the 2nd year of the pandemic. Based on Owen Sound Police Service records, overdose deaths followed a similar trend (3 in 2019, 8 in 2020, 14 in 2021, 3 in 2022 YTD) in the city.  
  • Statistics Canada has released the 2021 Census Data for our region
  • Social Assistance Summaries 2021 have been released by Maytree. Go to the direct link for Ontario Summary .A recent TVO.org report reveals that the Ontario government has reduced spending on social assistance by $814 million dollars.  We have been advocating for an increase in social assistance rates and more investment in the program
  • Also from Maytree: Why we need to care about single adults living in poverty.

UPCOMING CONFERENCES/SUMMITS

HOUSING SUPPORT 

  • New Saugeen Shores Housing Policypreviously, affordable rental units (ARUs) were referred to as Secondary Dwelling Units, since only one could be added to a property. Now, up to three (3) ARUs are allowed per property, including two (2) within the main building and one (1) within an accessory building or structure. 
  • Westario Power LEAP has been exhausted for 2022. No new applications for LEAP are being accepted. However, Bruce County residents are still able to apply for assistance with their utility arrears by completing a Housing Stability Fund application. Here is the link for the online application: https://chpi.brucecounty.on.ca/application/create. There are also programs in the other areas where Westario Power has customers, that may be able to assist people with their utility arrears. Contact 211 for information on how to apply for programs in these areas.
  • Grey County 14th Street Housing: has moved forward and expects to have the new build completed by April 2023. This supportive housing project is key in providing individuals from the By-Name List the opportunity to move to a supported living environment to learn skills, engage in community support and develop relationships. Read the report to the Grey County Council. 

HEALTH EQUITY SUPPORT

  • Owen Sound Sexual Health Clinic: the Grey Bruce Health Unit has reopened. The clinic is open to everyone, but focuses on those who are unable to access sexual health services through their primary health care provider. The clinic is open on Wednesdays, 9am-3pm by appointment at the Health Unit (101 17th Street East, Owen Sound). Call 519-376-9420 ext 1256. 
  • ER Wait Times and Closures in Chesley and Walkerton: wait times for hospital admission are at record high in Ontario and we are seeing more closures locally. Most recently Chesley and Walkerton announced weekend closures. Hospitals are reporting that staff shortages will make it “very challenging” to maintain 24-hour emergency department hours in the four South Bruce Grey Health Centre hospitals this fall. 

FOOD SUPPORT 

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORT

  • Guelph Owen Sound Transit (GOST): has an interim fleet of new, fully accessible buses.  A new technology that allows customers to see real-time bus locations along routes and predict when buses will arrive at any selected stop will be installed on the buses later this fall.  The permanent fleet of new low-floor, ramp-equipped buses are expected to arrive in the Spring of 2023 and will be equipped with bicycle racks in readiness for the summer season.
  • For mobility transit users, Voyago will begin booking mobility transit rides on Friday, August 26, 2022  at (519) 671-7168. 
  • For more information on the City of Owen Sound’s transit service, including hours of operation, rates, and route maps, visit www.owensound.ca/transit.
  • For more information, please contact Rick Chappell, Supervisor of Environmental Services, at 519-376-4440 ext.1226 or email rchappell@owensound.ca.

Stay well, Jill

Poverty, Voting and Elections – Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 99

Dear Colleagues, 

Municipalities are involved in an increasing number of policy areas – housing, health care, climate change, economic development, immigration, Indigenous reconciliation, and more. This requires work across, and cooperation among, multiple levels of government.  

The Poverty Task Force has created a new page that contains information on poverty, voting and elections @ BruceGreyVotes.com (http://brucegreyvotes.com).

Poverty, Voting and Elections

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force believes that poverty issues and poverty reduction strategies should be front and center in the upcoming municipal election.

People of all economic levels want:  a steady income, a home that is safe and affordable; good health care and representatives in government that work together to improve our well-being. 

These issues are reflected in our collective action on housingincome solutionsgender, diversity & inclusion and health equity.

Basic Income and Housing

guaranteed basic income means that everyone’s basic needs are met in a dignified and sustainable way. Housing is more than just 4 walls, it is creating a home and foundation for people to thrive in. Listen to the voices of the RentSafe Advisory Committee in My Voice is Power.

Voting and understanding how local government works

Being informed about elections and exercising the right to vote influences the change we want to see in our communities. 

The Poverty Task Force has compiled a list of resources that will assist in voting and understanding how local government works. It is important to understand the different levels of government and what they are responsible for when voting.

Centering Anti-Racist and Equity Frameworks in Anti-Poverty Work

We All Live Here (infographic) and a policy paper presented to the City of Owen Sound by Community Voices speaks to the need for more diversity and inclusion in municipal decision-making. Community Voices  promote Diversity and Inclusion of People on Low Income in municipal government. 

The Poverty Task Force has compiled a list of resources and tools on diversity and inclusion on municipal councils.

General Voter Information 

  • Voter Registration: It is important for people to ensure they are registered to vote by Sept 1st, 2022 since many municipalities have shifted to online or phone voting. 
  • Visit VoterLookup.ca or call 1‑866‑296‑6722 to make sure people are on the Voters’ List.
  • The voters’ list will be prepared on September 1, 2022. If you want to add, remove, or change your listed information on or after September 1, you must contact your municipal clerk.
  • Election Help Centres will be set up and they open up at various locations on Oct 14th. Oct 14th-24th: Online or phone voting is open. 

Upcoming opportunities to learn more about Candidates 

Owen Sound

  • Sept 29: All candidates debate hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, Bayshore Community Centre, 5:15pm. 
  • Oct 12: All candidates debate hosted by Rebound Owen Sound at the Harmony Centre. 

Flesherton

  • Aug 24: Meet and Greet, Justin’s Oven, 7pm. 

Sauble Beach

  • Aug 28: All Candidates Debate, Sauble Christian Fellowship, 2-5pm.

Media News Release 

A Media Release will go out on August 24th.

  • Please share the new link @ BruceGreyVotes.com (http://brucegreyvotes.com).
  • We encourage all PTF members to use these materials at all candidate debates in each municipality and in meetings with individual candidates.
  • Please send us information on debates happening in your community. 
  • Please encourage people to register to vote! 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 98

Dear Colleagues, 

The Poverty Task Force continues to build its resource page – Poverty, Voting and Elections and is engaging in education opportunities with candidates and the public.  

  • Voter Registration: It is important for people to ensure they are registered to vote by Sept 1st, 2022 since many municipalities have shifted to online voting. 
  • Visit VoterLookup.ca or call 1‑866‑296‑6722 to make sure people are on the Voters’ List.

The visit of Pope Francis from July 24 to 29, 2022 has left Indigenous communities wanting more from the Catholic Church and the government. There continue to be more cries for justice and addressing the injustice of justice for Indigenous Peoples.

  • Mi’kmaw Language Act: will take effect on Oct 1st, 2022 and recognizes the Mi’kmaw language as the original language of Nova Scotia.  The province will take further steps to invest in the promotion and revitalization of the language.

COVID 19 SUPPORT

We continue to see an increase in COVID cases and hospitalization. Low income people still remain at higher risk of death. 

  • Free Rapid Antigen Tests: Ontario will continue to provide free rapid antigen tests to the general public through existing channels like grocery stores, pharmacies, workplaces, schools, hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes.
  • Vaccine Update: anyone aged 18 year & older is eligible to receive a 2nd COVID19 Vaccine booster dose. You can receive it 5 months after your 1st booster dose. Parents and caregivers of children aged 6 months to under 5 years will be able to book appointments for the paediatric COVID-19 vaccine. Grey Bruce Health unit has updated their vaccine schedule information
  • COVID-19 paid sick days are extended to March 31, 2023. For workers, the maximum number of days remains 3 days and are not additional days. If you have used your 3 days in the past 2 years, no additional days are covered by the government.
  • Plan to Catch Up: the Ministry of Education has released a new health and education plan to keep schools open and for students to improve their learning experience this year. 

HOUSING SUPPORT 

  • Grey Bruce By-Name List: as of July 31st, there are 262 households active on the list. Of these 262 households, 215 of them are experiencing chronic homelessness.  Over 82% of the Grey Bruce community members experiencing homelessness have been homeless for at least 6 months of the last 12 months (Canada-wide average is 23% of households on the By-Name Lists are experiencing chronic homelessness. Source: Homeless Hub).  Of the 262, there are 50 households that are high acuity, 106 households mid acuity and 71 households low acuity. (Acuity levels are measured through questions on health experience and household demographics.)
  • Grey County Emergency Shelter and Diversion Program: the YMCA Emergency Housing Program is shifting over to Grey County as of October 1st.  YMCA will cease to operate Community Delivered Rent Supplements, Access to Motels for Emergency Shelter and associated Outreach Support for Grey County. 
  • The YMCA‘s Youth In Transition Housing Stability Program, Justice Programs and Bruce County Emergency Shelter will remain with the YMCA. 
  • BEFORE October 1st: people experiencing homelessness continue to call YMCA at 519-371-9230 x 5, Mon-Fri and call 211 after hours and weekends for information on available services.  
  • AFTER October 1st: call 211 for intake process and program information. 

HEALTH SUPPORTS

  • International Overdose Awareness Day: grassroot events will be held on August 31st, 2022 across Grey Bruce. Events will remember people we have lost and also be opportunities to raise awareness. Some events have been posted already for Owen Sound; and more information will follow in a joint poster.
  • Overdose Reporting Tool: Grey Bruce Health Unit is encouraging the use of an important overdose reporting tool, which members of the public, community organizations, and others can either fill out online or submit verbally by calling 211. All reports are completely anonymous and no personal information is collected.
  • Grey County Mental Health and Addiction Task Force: has presented a preliminary report on recommendations from consultations. The Task Force recognizes that “People need a basic income, stable housing, food, and access to health care for counselling or other treatments to succeed.” The report also includes the submission to the Ministry of Health from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) on an Integrated Approach to of Mental Health and Addictions.

RESEARCH SURVEYS

  • Retreated Workers Survey: In 2020, 6,000 more workers within the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula Economic Region left the workforce compared to 2019. These are persons who left the workforce and are not actively looking for work. This leaves Grey Bruce in a critical labour shortage.
  • The Four County Labour Market Planning Board has launched a survey to evaluate the extent and causes of this worker retreat.
  • South West Frail Senior Strategy: is seeking input from seniors on digital access through a Seniors Digital Access SURVEY. Contact Brad Hiebert at the South West Frail Senior Strategy with any questions.

FOOD SECURITY 

  • Community Fridge Project Meaford: The Grey Bruce Community Gardens Network/The Sustainability Project Inc. with support from the United Way of Bruce Grey have opened up a community fridge that offers free food Monday to Friday during business hours. The fridge bridges the gap between reducing food waste and offering a “no questions asked” accessible food source for all. 
  • The fridge is located at Eat Local Grey Bruce, 278 Cook Street in Meaford (old Meaford Factory Outlet). 
  • FOODBRUCEGREY.COM  NPX has made several improvements to the site, including a new dashboard for The Good Food Box Program, modifications to allow sorting by county, an easier-to-use drop menu for each of the dashboards, and a new graph showing the amount of grocery gift cards that are being distributed by food banks.  
  • Food Banks Canada:  reports hunger and food insecurity are increasing across the country, with lower-income Canadians hit hardest by inflation. 1 in 5 Canadians reported going hungry at least once between March 2020 and March 2022. 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.

INCOME AND EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT

  • New census data released by Statistics Canada shows that “After-tax income growth was faster for households with lower incomes, reflecting greater contributions of the Canada Child Benefit and pandemic relief benefits to the incomes of lower-income families”. 
  • Bank of Canada Survey (July 2022) reports that “workers do not anticipate their wage gains will keep up with inflation … adding that those in the private sector think their wages will increase this year by more than those in the public sector will.” On the employment front, on average, business owners expect their labour costs to increase by 5.8% in 2022.
  • Old Age Security Pension: is being raised by 10% for seniors who are 75 and older. Full pensioners will get more than $800 extra over the first year. Eligible seniors will receive this increase automatically, with the first payment going out today. Other payments can be expected on August 29th, September 27th, October 27th, November 28th, and December 21st.
  • Childcare: Grey County is working to enroll Childcare Operators In the New Fee Reduction Program. Tthe timeline moving forward would see fees decrease by 50% of current rates by Jan 1st, 2023. Parents at registered childcare spaces could see their retroactive rebates (retroactive to April 1) within 60 days once agreements are in place.
  • Grey County currently has just over 2,500 licensed childcare spaces. These are operating at about 85% capacity which is up from 70% capacity in 2021.  However, in the first quarter of 2022, there were still about 850 kids on the childcare waitlists. 
  • United Way Backpack Program: has been launched for this season. Parents and agencies can call 211 for the intake application process and bulk orders up until 25 Aug 2022.  Pick up depots will be set up in 2 counties in late August.  After 25 Aug 2022 contact the United Way of Bruce Grey at:  backpacks@unitedwaybg.com

NEWCOMERS SUPPORT  

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORT

  • Grey Bruce Airbus: after 35 years, the service closed on July 8th. A statement put out by the company indicated that it was too difficult to bring back the shared ride/cost effective method without government subsidies.  
  • Grey Transit Route: recently released a staff report. The inter-community transportation service is seeing its ridership continue to rise, but along with the success come some challenges including future sustainability and high fuel prices. Significant growth has been seen on the Dundalk-Orangeville route. 
  • Lion’s Head Shuttle:  Northern Bruce Peninsula council has entered into an agreement with the Golden Dawn Senior Citizen Home for free public shuttle services in Lion’s Head from July 1st to Oct 16th, 2022. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update #97

Dear Colleagues, 

Healing is different for everyone. Healing and reconciliation is a long journey for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. For many Elders, an apology from the Catholic Church is following through on the Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action # 58. 

The Honourable Murray Sinclair has said that Truth & Reconciliation is “not just a part of who we are as Survivors, it’s a part of who we are as a Nation.” For all, it is a painful reminder of human rights abuses committed by the Church and by Canada. The Papal visit is just one piece, one step in the healing and reconciliation journey. 

  • Truth & Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #58 specifically calls upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.  
  • Pope Francis delivered this apology on the unceded territory at the former Erminesikin Residential School in Maskwascis, Alberta on July 25th, 2022.
  • Prime Minister Trudeau’s statement spoke to reconciliation as a responsibility of all Canadians. “It is our responsibility to be open, to listen, and to share. It is our responsibility to see our differences not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to learn, to better understand one another, and to take action.”    
  • Walking Together provides details on the Pope’s visit this week. Translations of events are being provided in 12 Indigenous languages. CBC News provided coverage of Monday’s event. 
  • Many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people are advocating for the Pope to go beyond the apology – to release residential school records, artifacts and renounce the Document of Discovery.  As Canadians we must recognize the genocide that has taken place – not only through the residential schools but the day schools as well. 

Indigenous people hold up a banner of the names of children who died in residential schools for Pope Francis during his visit.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • If you need someone to talk to, the National Residential School Crisis Line offers emotional support and crisis referral services for residential school Survivors and their families. Call the toll-free Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line also offers support to all Indigenous Peoples. Counsellors are available by phone or online chat. This service is available in English and French, and, upon request, in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.

Connect with people at M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre at their monthly Community Fires or attend upcoming summer Pow Wows at Saugeen First Nation or Neyaashiingmiing First Nation.  

Stay well, Jill