Putting a spotlight on poverty

United Way of Bruce Grey and the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force wants to put a spotlight on poverty in our community.

Basic needs are increasingly out of reach for people living on low-income, and people with insufficient income face impossible choices every single day. For people living with disabilities, further barriers related to employment, social exclusion, and higher cost of living make it even more difficult to thrive without comprehensive supports.

After the 1.5% rate increase in October 2018, a single person receiving Ontario Works will still be 65% below the poverty line receiving only: $ 732/month.

On average,1 949 households per month access Ontario Works in Grey County and Bruce County in 2018.

July 2018 profiles:

Of the July case load:

  • 1148 clients, or 62% were single,
  • 595 clients, or 31%, were sole supporting parents
  • Balance were dual parent families or couples with no children.

ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) has a caseload of 6855 households in Grey Bruce. A single person on ODSP is 55% below the poverty line receiving $1 151.

Ontario’s low income cut-off puts the poverty line at $2 080 for a single person.

The lonely girl cries in the street

Any increases to Ontario Works caseloads are attributed to positive changes in regulations around income supports such as child support no longer being considered income, increase asset limits which allow people to keep more of their earned income and savings as well as the eligibility requirements for youth 16 and 17 living on their own.

Transitioning people out of poverty and to a life of sustainability requires many supports. Access to transportation, childcare that is affordable and fits the schedule of the jobs available.

We also need to ensure that the right supports are there for the right demographic of people needing supports. With 62% of recipients being singles, we need to ensure there are supports beyond those just focused on children and families.

The United Way of Bruce Grey and the Poverty Task Force look forward to working with the new Provincial government on addressing rural poverty needs.

Microsoft PowerPoint - PTF Election Graphics_4August2018

 

For more information:

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Food Charter Promoted To Municipal Leaders


Grey Bruce Public Health and Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force are working together to encourage munipalities across Grey and Bruce to endorse and take action on the Bruce Grey Food Charter. 

Public Health Dietician Laura Needham has been on a roadtrip across Grey and Bruce Counties to speak about a just and sustainable local food system.  This is the collective vision of many members in the food security community and those who sit around the table of the Food Security Action Group of the Poverty Task Force (PTF).

Laura Needham, who is also the co-chair of the Food Security Action Group of the PTF says the Food Charter is a guiding document to assist in the development of policies and programs to promote a healthy and just food system in Grey and Bruce Counties.

In a recent article by Robyn Garvey of Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre Laura gives examples of how to use the Food Charter by municipalities:

“For municipalities this could be a simple as creating a community garden and planting fruit bearing trees in parks to promoting the region as a food, agricultural and culinary destination. ” She says “this also includes promoting sustainable development of agriculture, water, land use policies and practices that support the production of healthy food.”

Needham says “this includes protecting and enhancing watersheds, wildlife, soil and bio-diversity. She adds the Food Charter is also about promoting a healthy lifestyle, saying municipalities can do this by creating walk-able and bike-able access to healthy food. Other ways municipalities can help is by promoting food literacy and encouraging skills building initiatives among youth.”

In 2017 and 2018 we have seen an increase in the number of municipalities in Grey and Bruce Counties endorsing the Food Charter.  Check out to see if your municipality or organization has endorsed the Food Charter!

Click on this link or go to: https://povertytaskforce.com/food-security/bruce-grey-food-charter to read the Food Charter and download the endorsement form.

 

Media Release: Help available to file tax returns

February 22, 2018

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force and Grey Bruce Health Unit encourage everyone to file a tax return, especially those with low or modest income. Filing a tax return helps identify benefits they can collect and may result in more money back. Getting help with filing tax returns is available throughout Grey Bruce. The Task Force has created a list of Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance services to help people find the service closest to them.

“Many people have no idea they can get money back. They fear being told to pay the government for large back taxes. But this is not the case for most people on low income.” Says Jill Umbach, Coordinator of Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force. “It is important to file this year to take advantage of tax credits to increase your annual income. You don’t have to file your previous taxes first to catch up. Many community tax clinics will help you to file for previous years as well.”

There are good reasons to file:
1. To qualify for programs including the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the GST/HST credit, and the Ontario Trillium Benefit, which all pay cash when you qualify.
2. To take advantage of certain tax credits like the Working Income Tax Benefit.
3. To recover any tax you may have overpaid from your pay cheque.

People on low income may not have access to affordable or relevant tax filing services and may not know about benefits and assistance available to them including targeted approaches suited to their specific needs.

Tax time is a good time to apply for the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP). Those who have not applied to OESP may be missing out on a monthly benefit towards their hydro bill, starting at $35.00 and upwards, based on income. The United Way of Bruce Grey and Grey Bruce Community Income Tax Clinic can assist with an application.

Free tax services are available to people on low income all across Grey Bruce. Call 211 or check online at 211 Information Bruce Grey.

For More Information:

Jill Umbach, Planning Network Coordinator,  Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, 519-377-9406, jill.umbach@gmail.com

Allison Murray, Health Promoter, Grey Bruce Health Unit
519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 ext. 1343
allison.murray@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca

Fighting poverty with food security

 

Public Health Dietician Laura Needham (left) and Jill Umbach, Planning Network Coordinator with Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, discussed food security issues with Saugeen Shores councillors at their July 24 meeting. Councillors were asked to consider endorsing a Bruce Grey Food Charter to create a just, sustainable and secure food system.  

For the past four years the Grey Bruce Poverty Task Force – politicians, 51 social agencies and community-based partners – have examined the root causes of poverty and identified barriers to change.

One of the main issues is food security – having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, appropriate and nutritious food – supported by a Food Charter that values health, social justice, culture, education, sustainable economic development and the environment.

Jill Umbach, Planning Network Coordinator with Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, and Public Health Dietician Laura Needham asked councillors to consider endorsing the Food Charter, which acknowledges the basic right to food, and is a commitment to work to towards a “vibrant, sustainable, food secure community,” Councillors were also asked to reconsider the way they “treat people who don’t have food.”

She said the 21 food banks in Grey Bruce do not address the main cause of food insecurity, so they need to change the “cultural way that we treat people who don’t have food,” so food banks aren’t the “go-to place for people with low income.”

“Rather than looking at a charitable situation all the time… we want those people to actually access other systems – whether it is connecting with fresh produce from a farmer that’s got excess, or whether its connecting to community gardens that are good for mental health but [where they] also can access fresh food….” Umbach said.

Food banks are still needed for crisis back-up, but Umbach said low-income people need better access to food that involves them more in the food system, including community gardens and school snack programs.

Coun. Mike Myatt said the 17 per cent poverty rate for those under-19 in Grey Bruce “struck a chord” and asked the source of the statistic and if the number was broken down further to give a Saugeen shores number.

Umbach said it was Census Canada data estimating that in Saugeen Shores, the average rate would be 14 to 17 per cent because the economy is stronger in Bruce than in Grey County. After the meeting Umbach said the 17 per cent figure represents the number of people under 19 in a family of four with annual income less than $42,000.

Coun. Neil Menage asked if people could legally give away surplus food – he’d had to compost an over-abundant crop of grapes. Umbach said it is “totally acceptable” noting there are Second Harvest programs and they are all noted on a food asset map. Menage also suggested they could develop community gardens in local passive parks.

Saugeen Shores Coun. Dave Myette thanked Umbach and Needham for “planting the seeds” to develop food security, and said he’d bring a motion to endorse the Food Charter at the future town council meeting.

In related news…

Umbach said the first Grey Bruce Poverty Task Force, Bridges Out of Poverty program – Getting Ahead –  holds its first sessions in Port Elgin,  starting on August 14 at the Community Housing Centre.

The program offers people receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program benefits, an eight-week program that looks at generational and situational poverty and looks at the resources available for low-income people in the community to deal with housing, transportation and social issues. Anyone interested should contact their worker for a referral. She said some of the graduates of the Port Elgin Bridges Out of Poverty program would be invited to speak to Saugeen Shores Council at a future date about their experiences.