Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 201

Dear Colleagues,

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day.  Many events are being held today to honour and remember those who have passed. This day is an annual global event that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths.

  • City of Owen Sound Hall will be illuminated with purple lights in honour of International Overdose Awareness Day from August 30-31
  • Safe N Sound and partners will host an event at the Farmers Market on from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre will hold a community vigil and full moon ceremony from 7-8:30pm.
  • In Hanover, a candlelight vigil will take place at the Heritage Square Gazebo from 6:30-8pm.
  • In Port Elgin, the Harm Reduction Team of the Grey Bruce Public Health will hold a candlelight vigil at the Coulter Parkette from 6 – 7:30pm.  

Rainbow Registration: Saugeen Shores has made history by being Canada’s first Rainbow Registered municipality. The Town meets standards that ensure 2SLGBTQI+ customers feel safe, welcomed, and accepted. The Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce also received this accreditation. Saugeen Shores: Rainbow Registered Accreditation – Saugeen Shores



  • Children First Canada: has released its Raising Canada 2023 report.  The report highlights how children and youth have compounded, complex, and urgent needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data also reveals that equity-deserving children and youth are disproportionately impacted by the top 10 threats – including young First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, people from racialized communities, 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and young people with disabilities. Raising-Canada-2023_V1d.pdf (childrenfirstcanada.org)
  • Ontario School Nutrition Program: Canadian school food program operators are seeing the highest demand ever as children prepare to go back to school. They say it points to the urgent need for a national school food policy.
  • Data from Statistics Canada found that in 2022, 1.8 million households reported experiencing some level of food insecurity, compared to 1.1 million in 2021. Higher rates of food insecurity were found in households with children. As cost of living soars, school food programs struggle to fill growing need | Globalnews.ca


  • Student loan interest cancellation:  Federal government has permanently eliminated interest on the Canada Student Loan and the Canada Apprentice Loan. Interest accrual on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans was temporarily paused beginning in 2020 and become permanent April 1, 2023.
  • Free Income Tax Services: are still offered year-round in Grey Bruce. Go to freetaxclinics.ca, Free Income Tax Services Grey Bruce or call 211 for available services.  


  • Bruce County has been conducting a Transit Demand and Feasibility Study to get input on the need and demand for transit solutions for County residents, workers, students, and visitors. Input from the public through the Phase 1 survey, combined with valuable consultation with municipal partners and stakeholders, has identified key transportation needs across Bruce County.
  • The County is now looking for public feedback on the transportation needs identified across Bruce County in Phase 1 of the study, and to help prioritize those needs. Phase 2 Survey will help shape the kinds of services and solutions that will be considered for our region. Submit the Phase 2 Online Survey by Friday, September 1, 2023. www.brucecounty.on.ca/TransitStudy

Stay well, Jill  

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 200

Dear Colleagues, There were positive announcements in July with the recognition of the harm towards First Nations children, youth and families. 

August is Overdose Awareness Month and reminds us of the work to be done in response to the opioid crisis. Overdose touches people and communities in many ways. It is a complex issue involving stigma, discrimination and various misunderstandings about drugs and people who use drugs. Our collective response to overdose prevention demands a comprehensive response from governments, organisations within and beyond health sectors, and a compassionate and informed community.

  • International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) 2023: is a global event held on August 31st each year. It aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.  It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. The 2023 theme is “Recognizing those people who go unseen”. Campaign Resources 2023 – International Overdose Awareness Day (overdoseday.com)
  • Grey Bruce Events: Families and friends of those affected are planning memorial ceremonies in many communities.
    • In Owen Sound, Safe N Sound will be hosting a barbecue and ceremony starting at 10:30am at the Farmer’s Market. More information to follow. In Hanover, the Overdose Awareness Group are planning a casual gathering at the Heritage Square Park at the gazebo. Concentrating more on support for those who have lost people to overdose, or living in fear with someone struggling. People are welcome to share or just embrace the support. More information to follow.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) continue to call for a multi-level response to end the drug poisoning crisis. These recommendations involve emergency management and policy reform that acknowledges the root causes of addiction, such as housing related factors, poverty, unemployment, and trauma.


  • Bruce County Housing Report: was presented to the Human Services Committee meeting with the following data:
    • the number of applicants as of June 30th of this year was 1093, up from 843 at the same time in 2022.
    • the largest increase was for the number of applications for rent-geared-to-income housing, which increased by 32%, from 790 applications in 2022 to 1046 in 2023.
    • over the same time frame, the number of family applications increased by 32%, while the number of adults applying for housing went up by 29%.
    • the number of senior applications saw a smaller increase of 13%.
  • Grey County Housing Report: and update to the Housing Action Plan (HAP) was presented to the Committee of the Whole.
    • The County is expected to grow by more than 12,000 households through 2046.
    • Policy targets aim for 30% of new development at an ‘affordable’ price point to low- and moderate-income households.


  • The Salvation Army Owen Sound: recently reported they are helping close to 1,000 people/month with food and clothing.
    • Annual food bank usage is up 20%.
    • Food bank feeds 750-780 people/month; 22-24% higher average than last year (600/month).
    • $60,000 spend on groceries in the last 2-3 months; with a significant increase in food for the Supportive Outreach Program (SOS).
    • The Salvation Army Port Elgin: food bank is now open 3 days/week due to demand and may go up to being open 4 days/week in September.


  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce: Applications are now open for Fall grants up to $3,000 and being accepted through our online granting portal. The deadline is September 15, 2023.

Stay well, Jill

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 119

Dear Colleagues, 

Last week our Income & Employment Security Action Group heard from Natasha Pei/Tamarack Institute and Misty Schonauer/United Way BG about the Business Reducing Poverty Project.

The project is a multi-sector collaboration – TD Bank, non-profits (Prosper Canada, Momentum, etc.) and people with lived experience – with the aim to increase bankability. A human first and co-design approach has been taken. Read more about the co-design approach at Liberatory Design or human-centered design at IDEO Human Centered Design Toolkit 2nd Ed.pdf (hubspot.net)

This approach puts people with low income in charge of defining and diagnosing their own unique, multidimensional poverty—who by owning the problem, own the solution.  Who owns poverty? (povertystoplight.org) The project has come up with 6 personas and scenarios to create protypes and has come up with 70 ideas in its first year. The next 2 years of the project will unpack those ideas and check in with people with lived experience. Watch the Tamarack webinar – Tamarack Institute Webinar: Businesses Reducing Poverty (2023) – YouTube

We have seen an increase in hate activity in our communities during and after Pride Month. A new grant provides funding for physical security but we still need to do more to address the action.  


  • ODSP: was increased by 6.5% on July 1, 2023. The basic ODSP rate for a single person with the maximum shelter allowance is now $1,308 a month. This is up from $1,228. The 6.5% raise applies only to the core amounts like: basic needs for singles and families, shelter maximums for singles and families, board and lodge amounts for singles and families the maximum amount provided for a couple where both have disabilities.
    • The 6.5% increase does not apply to several other benefits that ODSP recipients often get. This includes the Remote Communities Allowance, Special Diet Allowance, and the Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Nutritional Allowance. ODSP rates are now indexed to the annual inflation rate. If there’s no change to inflation or if inflation rates go down, ODSP rates stay the same. Inflation is calculated using the Consumer Price Index for Ontario, which measures how much the cost of things like food and housing have gone up or down.
  • There are no increases to Ontario Works (OW). If people have questions about their OW benefits, they should contact their caseworker. If they’re having problems getting benefits, they can contact their local community legal clinic.
  • Licence Plate Stickers: Service Ontario no longer issue licence plate stickers for passenger vehicles, light-duty trucks, motorcycles and mopeds. However, you must continue to renew your licence plate every 1 to 2 years, usually before your birthday. Eliminating renewal fees saves vehicle owners $120 a year in Southern Ontario. Get a refund or credit for your licence plate sticker or driver’s licence | ontario.ca
  • The Auditor General reported in 2022 that pandemic supports for individuals and businesses totalled $211 billion. While $4.6 billion went to ineligible individuals, more than $15 billion went to businesses whose revenue ultimately didn’t decline enough to qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. 1,046 individuals have filed court challenges over pandemic benefits, including cases that have been closed and those still pending. CRA loses sometimes in court over COVID-19 relief | CTV News  
  • United Way Backpack Program:  registration for school backpacks is open. To apply, call 2-1-from June 14th through to August 25th. Outside of these dates, call the United Way of Bruce Grey office at 519-376-1560. Backpack Program – United Way of Bruce Grey
  • The United Way has assembled more than 32,800 backpacks over the past 18 years and saved families more than $2.25 million in school supply expenses. Annual backpack program shifting into high gear in Grey-Bruce | Owen Sound Sun Times


  Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update #118

Dear Colleagues, 

National Indigenous History Month invited us to reflect on the unique connections and relationships Indigenous people and their ancestors have and have had with this land for thousands of years and countless generations.  Many people partners gathered on June 21st to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  We shall continue to celebrate Indigenous-led initiatives changing systems. 

Pride Month may be coming to a close, but our commitment to supporting and uplifting the 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ community remains as strong as ever! While the month saw many parades, flags flying and pride celebrations in many communities across Grey Bruce, we also saw hatred and intolerance in reaction to these events.  Grey Bruce households flying pride flag targeted by hate mail. | Ontario Morning from CBC Radio with Ramraajh Sharvendiran | Live Radio | CBC Listen

There is much more work to be done to advocate for diversity and inclusion in our communities; and we call on our local governments to take a stronger stand against hate and discrimination. 

  • Grey Bruce Pride is petitioning local government to develop more Anti-Hate and Anti-Oppression Response Policies and Proactive Prevention Policies within Grey Bruce. Petition · Immediate Anti-Hate and Anti-Oppression Response Policies Required within Grey Bruce · Change.org
  • Beth Ezekiel Synagogue call on local governments to take a strong stand against hate and discrimination in every form: to increase engagement with all targeted groups, to support meaningful public education programs and, to draft policies that ensure our friends and neighbours live safe, secure, and peaceful lives in Grey/Bruce. 

Bruce County Strategic Plan has been released with a pillar focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Bruce County: Strategic Plan 2023-2026


  • Grocery Rebate: the one-time payment to support low- and modest-income Canadians and families was issued on July 5th, 2023.  It can be up to an extra $467 for eligible couples with two children; up to an extra $234 for single Canadians without children; and an extra $225 for seniors, on average. Canadians to receive grocery rebate this week. Here’s when? (citynews.ca)
  • Free Income Tax Clinics: July is the first month where taxpayers receive their eligible payments if they filed their taxes on time. If you work with low-modest income individuals or newcomers, July is a great month to provide information on benefits and credits available to them. This allows the individuals to ensure that they are receiving all benefits and credits where they meet the eligibility conditions and serves as a reminder to file their taxes as early as possible if they have missed the deadline of April 30, 2023.  Find a service at:  freetaxclinics.ca  
  • Canada Disability Benefit Act (Bill C-22): was passed by Parliament on June 22nd which proposes to create a federal income supplement for low-income, working-age people with disabilities, modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Summary of the proposed Bill C-22: The Canada Disability Benefit Act – Canada.ca
  • CERB Impact Study:  Policy Alternatives has concluded that CERB was a positive experience for recipients, providing stability during a global crisis: 70% of respondents said CERB had a positive impact on their household financial situation.  But CERB was more than an income support: 67% said it helped them deal with the stress of the pandemic, 60% said it allowed them to take care of ill family members and 49% said it helped them re-enter the job market. CERB_Final_June 12, 2023.pdf (policyalternatives.ca)
  • Grey Bruce Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Network: a gathering of Volunteer Coordinators, volunteers, social agencies and government representatives will take place on September 14th. See poster for more details. For those involved in the program, please register for this free event at: http://bit.ly/3CTANjv


  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce: released a brief concluding that it is critical to build the right types and mix of housing, including purpose-built rentals, missing middle, student, non-profit, cooperative and supportive housing. Home Stretched: Tackling Ontario’s Housing Affordability Crisis Through Innovative Solutions and Partnerships (occ.ca)
  • Grey County Homelessness & Transitional Housing System Enhancement Plan: In Grey County, costs related to short term shelter of individuals and families have risen sharply since 2018 and the need continues to rise. A new report outlines the cost of the program, ongoing budget needs, barriers to the existing system, gaps and complexities as we move into the summer and plan for the winter season. 
  • Grey Bruce Coordinated Access/By Names List: as of May 31st, 117 households are on the list, 100 experiencing chronic homelessness. 63 households have moved off the list since November 2022. We have been designated a Built for Zero CommunityBuilt For Zero Canada – Community Map (bfzcanada.ca)




  • Grey Transit Route:  Owen Sound, Wiarton and Sauble is running 4 times daily 7 days/week for the summer. Find schedules and pre-book your seat at www.greytransitroute.com or call 226-910-1001 for more information. Free transit on weekends for many routes!


Stay well,  Jill