Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 67

Dear Colleagues, 

Health equity issues continue to challenge vulnerable people under the pandemic. Getting a better understanding of inequities has called for more race based health data collection. Statistics Canada has created a new Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Data Hub with COVID19 focused disaggregated data for diverse populations.  

We have moved from 24% of the eligible population fully vaccinated at the end of June 2021 to 60% vaccinated in mid-July 2021. That is a significant increase,  We still need to encourage more people to get vaccinated to achieve target levels to keep ahead of a 4th wave.  Providing low-barrier vaccine clinics is critical now.

Some of the best practices for low-barrier vaccination have been

  • select a safe space
  • select a central location
  • surveillance free environment
  • reach out to diverse populations i.e. Amish, Indigenous, etc. to develop unique strategies  
  • ensure trusted people are on site to provide support and encouragement
  • provide clinics in rural locations outside major towns and cities 
  • walk-in clinics (no appointment) 
  • drive-thru clinics (no appointment)
  • pop-up clinics at locations where people gather i.e. markets, food banks, social housing complexes, etc.
  • no requirement of proof of identification 
  • no requirement of health card
  • no proof of address or postal code
  • paper free process is best but if still being collected
    • allow people to complete forms in advance with support from staff/volunteers
    • have forms available in multiple languages 

Dr. Arra indicated that “the pandemic has unmasked the need for more support for people in our community.” in a Bruce Power town hall COVID19 update event on July 21st. The COVID19 Delta variant has impacted people who are transient and homeless.  It has also impacted people who live in crowded housing and have lower socio-economic status.  

Access to primary care, dental care, paid sick days, living wage, safe & affordable housing and transportation are all social determinants of health. These are but a few gaps in service and barriers people faced before the pandemic but the need has become more evident under the pandemic. 

In Grey County and Bruce

  • 95% of seniors (65+) have access to regular healthcare provider
  • 82.5% of seniors (65+) have access to a medical doctor
  • 53.9% of youth (age 12-17) have access to a regular healthcare provider
  • 54% of adults (age 18-34) have access to a regular healthcare provider 

Overall, access to healthcare providers and/or medical doctors is lower in Grey Bruce than Ontario and Canadian averages. (Source: Grey Bruce Community Health Survey, Stats Can, 2015-2016)  
Response to Opioid Crisis and Harm Reduction Services

  • The Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) has released its Opioid Situation Report #1, July 2021. 
  • In 2020 there were
    • 24 overdose deaths
    • 107 emergency room visits for suspected opioid overdoses
    • EMS responded to 80 suspected opioid overdoses 
  • The GBHU provides leadership for the Opioid Working Group (OWG) subgroup of the Grey Bruce Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy. It brings together professionals and community members to address the opioid epidemic locally, as outlined in the Grey Bruce Opioid ResponsePlan.  
  • The GBHU has a harm reduction program that includes a needle syringe and naloxone program. 
  • Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) harm reduction services are not dependent on individuals stopping their use of substances. They take a person-centered approach and meet people where they are at to reduce any health and social harms associated with addiction and substance use. Contact them at 519-376-5508. They are open 8:30-4:30
  • In June 2021, the Big City Mayors called on the government to decriminalize controlled substances in an effort to get ahead of what is being called a drug poisoning crisis. 


  • ODSP is now open from 8:30am-5pm. The front desk will remain closed to the public until further notice. Clients are asked to continue using the interview room to contact the front desk or their caseworker. 
  • Clients are encouraged not to come into the office if they don’t need to and to continue to call, email, fax or use MyBenefits
  • Old Age Security increase and one-time payment
    • $500 one-time payment to older seniors will be delivered during the week of August 16th. This payment is for those seniors who are eligible for OAS pension in June 2021 and were born on or before June 30, 1947. No action is required by seniors, who will automatically receive the payment if they are eligible.
    • In July 2021, OAS benefits will automatically increase 1.3%, bringing the maximum monthly OAS pension amount to $626.49, up from $618.45. The Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance will also be adjusted for inflation.
    • In July 2022, there will be a permanent increase of 10% to the OAS pension. This will be for seniors aged 75 and over. This will provide an additional $766 to full pensioners over the first year.


  • Community Needs Grants – Canadian Women’s Foundation
    • New annual grant stream designed to provide one year of flexible funding to cover program costs and/or operational expenses.
    • Target is programming to serve women, girls, Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people in their communities.
    • Deadline: August 6th, 2021 at 4:00pm EDT
    • Approximately 23 grants up to a maximum of $20,000 each are expected to be granted. 
  • Tourism Businesses Grants and Loans – Federal Government
    • The Federal Government is offering a mix of non-repayable grants of up to $100,000 or no-interest loans of up to $500,000 to finance capital improvements. 
    • At least 1/10th of the $500 million available will go to Indigenous tourism operators and organizations for things like workforce training or national projects and will be non-repayable grants, responding to funding concerns from that part of the tourism sector. 


  • Community Transportation Grant Program the Ontario government is extending funding of up to $14 million over2 years for communities providing transportation services in unserved and underserved regions across.  
    • Grey County ($1,850,000 2018-2023, $924,359.66 2023-2025) 
    • City of Owen Sound ($1,246,986.81 2018-2023, $674,054.62 2023-2025). 


  • Four County Labour Market Planning Board is conducting new research 
    • The Precarious Living Series will explore critical factors related to precarious employment. They will create a series of narratives/ infographics/ videos on people in our local workforce who are working and living precariously reflecting on their challenges and struggles. For more information or to participate in the project contact may@planningboard.ca
    • The Impact of COVID19 on Women in the Workforce will examine women’s labour force participation both currently and after COVID-19.  Identifying the extent to which women’s workforce participation has been impacted by the pandemic may help us further understand the overall economic recovery of our region and identify opportunities for recovery. For more information or to participate in the project contact  tingting@planningboard.ca

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 66

Dear Colleagues, 

Grey Bruce Public Health are looking to expedite the vaccine roll out and provide equity for access to the services. 

“With the surge of Delta cases, there is nothing more important for every one of us in Grey Bruce this month than to ensure we get the 2 doses of vaccine as soon as possible” – Dr. Arra

The aim is to have everyone vaccinated before the end of July. Having everyone vaccinated would slow down the further spread of the virus in Grey Bruce. It is our only tool to use to recover from this pandemic.

Grey County and Bruce County Paramedics have been providing vaccinations at various locations such as County Housing Buildings, Salvation Army Owen Sound, farmers’ markets and working with migrant farmer populations.

  • This week Grey County Paramedics will be attending Salvation Army Owen Sound on Friday morning and M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre on Friday afternoon.  
  • People can be vaccinated without an I.D. or health card. They just need to give their name and birthdate. 
  • There are other locations where Paramedic Services and Grey Bruce Public Health could take the vaccines to be more available. 
  • Grey County and Bruce County Paramedics are urging agencies to contact them for locations to take the vaccines to residents. 
  • Kevin McNabb Kevin.mcnab@grey.ca and Ray Lux rlux@brucecounty.on.ca

Grey Bruce Health Unit Vaccine Rollout Schedule

Barriers to Booking Resolved

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 65

Dear Colleagues, 

Even before the pandemic hit, homelessness was known to take up to 25 years off a person’s life. Now, life has become even more precarious for those experiencing homelessness and a lack of housing options.  

Considered among the most vulnerable to the virus, people who are experiencing homelessness are 20 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, 10 times more likely to receive intensive care, and more than 5 times more likely to die within 21 days of a positive test. (ICES & Lawson Health Research Institute, 2021)

A housing crisis, opioid crisis and the new Delta virus variant means people are living in very dangerous conditions. Thank you to all partners that are working to improve isolation conditions for people and to save lives.  


More than ever, please ensure that your teams are following all of the public health COVID 19 protection procedures.   

  • Safe N Sound: will be limiting service due to recent covid exposures. Their hours will remain in effect from 9:00am to 3:30pm, but will be curbside to hand out needed supplies, food or basic necessities. 
  • By-name List (as of 17 June 2021)
    • 84 homeless/49 chronically homeless 
    • 11 housed by agencies
    • 2 left the area (no contact in 90 days)
  • Indigneous Housing Support Program (as of 17 June 2021) 
    • 100 households, 144 individuals
    • 80 homeless/51 chronically homeless
    • 35 precariously housed
    • 11 elders/51 youth
    • 16 leaving institutions
  • Tiny Homes South Bruce PeninsulaCouncil has approved a town-initiated zoning bylaw amendment that includes eliminating minimum gross floor area requirements for homes beyond what’s set out in Ontario’s Building Code.
  • The City of Owen Sound has released an Housing Affordability Discussion Paper as part of its Official Plan. 
  • Recovery for All has launched its VOTE HOUSING campaign which advocates at the national level to increase investments in affordable housing and initiatives to address homelessness. 
  • Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) Annual Conference 2021 will be held on June 29, 2021, 3-5pm (via Zoom). This year’s conference will explore themes of energy equity, affordability and access. Registration is free, here
  • The Homeless Hub’s State of Systems Approaches Report explores how to prevent and end homelessness through an equitable, just and accountable framework of systems transformation.


We are deeply saddened to hear of another horrific discovery of 751 unmarked graves of children. Our thoughts are with the Cowessess First Nation and all First Nation peoples of Saskatchewan and across Canada. #everychildmatters

  • A Day to Listen the Downie Wenjack Fund is hosting a series of stories, music and events to amplify Indigenous voices on June 30th. #dosomething 
  • M’Wikwedong IFC is offering a series of Youth Housing Workshops. Contact Rachel Paterson to register or for more info. ishp@mwikwedong.com


  • The Food Security Action Group will be meeting the Plan the Bruce team to give input into this Bruce County Strategic Plan.  Participate in an online survey at planthebruce.ca/communities to share your input.    
  • The Community Safety and Well Being Plan has been fully endorsed and released. Work begins now on assessment of Action Tables and the creation of county level and municipal action plans. 


  • National Guaranteed Basic Income Bill C-273 entered Second Reading on June 14th.  This is the first of 2 rounds of debate before the bill goes to a vote.  MPs from multiple parties debated the bill, most showing support and some raising questions about how to do it. 
  • The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business released a study this week which shows Indigenous companies needed more financial help during the pandemic, but many struggled to find relief.
    • The survey of 825 Indigenous businesses found 72% wanted more financial support and 44% didn’t think they could operate until July without aid. 
    • More than half, who were surveyed between Dec. 18, 2020 and Fed. 1, 2021, and who needed assistance, applied for at least one government relief program.
    • 52% qualified, but 1/4 of those had difficulty meeting application criteria and almost half said financial requirements were a barrier to accessing aid.
    • NACCA’s Indigenous Business Stabilization Program has been extended to June 30th, 2021.
  • 2021 Financial Planner Canada Financial Stress Index was released. 
    • Amid the pandemic, nearly 2-in-5 of Canadians (38%) say money is their #1 source of stress, more so than personal health (26%), work (20%), or relationships (15%).
    • More than half (51%) of Canadians have lost sleep over money concerns
    • 1/3 (31%) say financial stress has caused health issues – an increase from 18% last year.
    • Nearly 1/2 (45%) say the COVID-19 pandemic has directly impacted their financial stress level. 


  • Feeding Families – Restaurant Relief more than 70 donors (businesses, groups and individuals) gave $45,000 to 40 local restaurants who’ve made more than 3,000 meals for OSHaRE. This was the total as of June 17th but we expect it to be higher with the final totals. The relief effort has come to an end as restaurants focus on re-opening their businesses. However, OSHaRE continues to provide meals daily and you can make direct donations.


  • City of Owen Sound Public Transit:  is completing a Transit Study and would like your participation in the survey.   Complete the survey and also forward to clients and families who may have an interest in having their voice heard. There are virtual stakeholder and public engagement meetings planned in June and August. Please go to the site to register. 

Stay well, Jill  

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 64

Dear Colleagues, 

Miigwetch to the Elders and teachers who provided healing words and blessings for our community last week. Blessings were said at many memorial locations, including at the Giche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden and Saugeen First Nation for the 215 residential school children. 

  • This year, National Indigenous History Month is dedicated to the missing children, the families left behind and the survivors of residential schools. National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.
  • The Owen Sound Library and Kegedonce Press host a virtual visit with authors Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler, Celeste Pedri-Spade, and Neal Shannacappo. They will discuss their current books published by Kegedonce Press and life as Indigenous authors on June 10 at 7:00 pm.
  • Go to Zoom Link: http://bit.ly/Kegedonce-OSNGUPL

This week, we stand in solidarity with our Muslim community. We extend our compassion and love to those in our community and elsewhere who are affected by this horrendous crime against a Muslim family in London.   We fundamentally oppose and condemn all forms of Islamophobia, hatred, discrimination and prejudice

  • The Kincardine Islamic Centre is asking people to join the calls by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) for a National Action Summit on Islamophobia.  https://www.nccm.ca/london/ 
  • The Owen Sound Muslim Association invite the community to come together at Owen Sound City Hall, Friday, June 11 at 7 p.m to join as we have before in peaceful solidarity with and for our Muslim neighbours. We want a safe community for them and all our children, and we can only build that together. If you wish to bring a non-perishable food item, it will be donated to a local food program. 

There remains so much work to be done in our communities and country to address all forms of discrimination, hatred and systemic racism. 

  • Show your Pride this month by following Grey Bruce Pride or visit their events page for upcoming events and activities in your area: https://www.facebook.com/GreyBrucePride/events 
  • Kincardine Pride is hosting a three-part webinar series called “‘Out’ in the Country” which will explore what it means to be LGBTQ2+ in rural Ontario. 
  • Learn more and register for each of the three webinars at fb.com/kincardinepride/events 
  • An introduction to human trafficking relevant to the 2SLGBTQ community is being hosted  by PFLAG on Tuesday, June 15th.   LGBTQ youth and other marginalized youth are disproportionately at risk of being trafficked.  
  • Nicole Gajraj will give a short talk followed by a Q&A period.   For the Zoom link email owensoundon@pflagcanada.ca

As we  move into Step 1 of the Roadmap to Reopen many organizations and businesses will be opening up their doors. Please remember to update 211 for your listing and check 211 for changes to programs.  


  • Ontario Nutrition Program Grey Bruce (OSNP-GB):  OSNP staff have been  planning with all 135 schools on ways to support food insecure families throughout the summer. All schools have received communications from OSNP with information on available grocery store gift cards, food vouchers, food hampers, meal sources and good food boxes. 
  • OSNP granted an additional $160,000 emergency funding that has been made available to schools for family home support now and over the summer months. The United Way, Bruce Power, the Salvation Army, grocery stores and school fundraisers have also contributed various supports via OSNP.  
  • If you have school families-in-need, please contact the school principal or administrator to access resources. Each school has different plans for distribution in June and over the summer months. 
  • Grey Bruce Food Distribution: while not all the May 2021 numbers are in the totals today since July 2020 are: 
    • over 150,000 (152,852) community meals distributed by 12 out of 18 organizations
    • 50,134.24 kg of food donated through foodrescue.ca 
    • 132,769 kg of food donated through food banks to 8,975 HHs (17,329 people supported), 17 out of 20 food banks 
    • 27,060 community volunteer hours (35 out of 52 organizations) 
  • The Grey Bruce Community Garden Network has put out a call for community members to assist in this year’s growing season in Durham.  Contact riverstonecommunitygarden@elephantthoughts.com.
  • South East Grey Community Health Centre -has  opened to the public on June 7th for face-to-face meetings with clients and meal pickups.  


  • The COVID19 outbreakat the Forum rooming house in Hanover has brought partners together to respond to the complex needs in the building. 
  • While Grey Bruce Public Health is leading with other health providers to respond to the medical needs, many other partners are ensuring daily meals, food hampers and health & hygiene items are delivered. Other partners are providing housing support and responding with mental health, harm reduction and non-COVID19 health support for the residents who must remain in isolation. 
  • Public Health has a comprehensive checklist for preventing and responding to outbreaks in congregate settings. 
  • By-Name List: 20 new referrals came in this week for a total of 90 people on the list.   A by-name list is a comprehensive list of every person in a community experiencing homelessness, updated in real time. Using information collected and shared with their consent, each person on the list has a file that includes their name, homeless history, health, and housing needs.


  • Reaching Home Funding: the United Way Simcoe Muskoka invites existing recipients of Reaching Home funding for Rural and Remote to apply again for a different project  for capital projects to address housing needs in their region.   
  • A total of $2,619,222 will be available to support capital projects, pending approval from Parliament, expected in June 2021.  Funding requests accepted from a minimum of $25,000 up to a maximum of $500,000.
  •  Application deadline: July 5th at 5:00 PM EST.
  •  Projects to run from September 2021 to March 31, 2022.
  • To Apply visit their website https://uwsimcoemuskoka.ca/reachinghomeapply/ or contact Tally Lajeunesse,  Federal Programs Associate,705.726.2301 x 2012,  ReachingHome@UWSimcoeMuskoka.ca


  • Wellness Wednesdays: Jackie Ralph, CMHA Supervisor, Youth Awareness & Education, is an incredible force of energy in our community!  Since Sept 2020, she has produced 30 Wellness Wednesday videos with 5,042 views and 20 On Air interviews with Mix 106.5 (some 6,619 listeners and 13,292 views). With the province re-opening this weekend, look for Jackie singing outside various long-term care facilities! 


  • COVID-19 benefits finder will help you to determine which benefits you may be eligible for: https://covid-benefits.alpha.canada.ca/en/start
  • The Wiarton Salvation Army will be hosting an ID clinic next week. Call for more info 519-534-0353.
  • United Way School Backpack Program opens Jun 14th – Aug 20th, 2021. Individuals can dial 2-1-1 on their phone to apply for the Backpack Program. 2-1-1 call centre staff will complete the intake application process. After Aug 20th, individuals can contact the United Way directly @ 519-376-1560. 
  • For large agency requests, call the United Way office directly. Once backpacks are available, the United Way will contact the parent and coordinate pick up in Owen Sound or at a depot in their community. Requests after Aug 16 may not reach a depot and the parent may need to come to Owen Sound to pick up.  
  • Pick up depots are located in: 
  • Grey County – Dundalk, Durham, Hanover, Markdale, Meaford and Owen Sound 
  • Bruce County – Kincardine, Port Elgin, Tara, Walkerton and Wiarton


  • Meaford Moves+ is an accessible, door-to-door bus service that Municipal residents who have a disability or mobility challenge may be eligible for. 
  • Riders can use Meaford Moves+ for medical or professional appointments, or going to work. If your healthcare provider is out of town, trips to Collingwood, Thornbury, or Owen Sound for medical appointments are also available.  
  • Rates are $2 for in-town rides, and $8 for out of town trips.
  • For an application form, visit http://ow.ly/WJT950EZ8JM, or call 519-538-1060 ext. 1100 for a hardcopy.

Stay well, Jill