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 

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