Each year the Poverty Task Force’s goal is to demonstrate how the work of the PTF changes lives and communities.
The PTF is a member of the Communities Ending Poverty/Tamarack Institute. Communities Ending Poverty is a powerful collective impact movement comprised of 330 municipalities and represented by 80 regional poverty reduction roundtables across Canada. We have learned that to end poverty, it takes the whole community and our entire country working together.
Our Impact Report 2020 sets the baseline for annual reporting against a set of data collected from partners and government statistics. Since March 2020, partners have been focused on COVID 19 pandemic response therefore our planned collective impact reporting has been delayed. In the interim, we have released several Annual Reports – Annual Report 2021 and Annual Report 2022 that speak to our strategic directions.
The impact of rising prices on vulnerable people for rent, food, utilities, etc. and our slow recovery from the pandemic are creating the start of a tough year. It means more people are having to make hard decisions about what they can and can’t afford.
Five weeks into the new year, we are all busy with new strategic planning, advocacy for budgets and the release of new studies.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission issued a statement on human rights and access to cold weather services. The importance of respecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness was reaffirmed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on January 27, 2023 when it denied the municipality of Waterloo’s request to remove an encampment when there is no adequate indoor shelter space as it would violate the residents’ Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.
Short Term Shelter Programs in both Counties have worked hard this winter to ensure that people were sheltered before weather systems hit. Connections were made with prisons and hospitals to ensure that people were not discharged onto the streets during the extreme weather. They reached out to people living in tents to do wellness checks and offer warmer shelter.
Safe N Sound in partnership with the City of Owen Sound extended their hours, including one extreme weather episode providing all night shelter.
2023 Ontario Budget Submission: pre-budget consultations were held locally by MPP Rick Byers on January 13th. The Poverty Task Force met in-person and provided a written submission.
Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS): The Ontario government is doubling the GAINS payment for seniors for 12 months beginning January 2023. This measure will increase the maximum GAINS payment to $166 per month for single seniors and to $332 per month for couples, a maximum increase of almost $1,000 per person in 2023.
Canada Housing Benefit The one-time top-up aims to help eligible low-income renters with a tax-free one-time payment of $500. Applications are due by March 31st 2023.
Ontario Disability Support Program Earnings Exemption: the government has increased monthly earnings exemption for people with disabilities from $200 to $1,000 effective 1 February 2023 and reflected on March 2023 payment. This will mean that the first $1,000 earned in a month is exempt and will not affect ODSP income support. For each dollar earned above $1,000, the 25 cents is exempt from the calculation of income support. However, the total earnings are based on the household income, not the individual’s income on ODSP.
NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
Community Services Recovery Fund(CSRF): responds to the adaptation and modernization needs of non-profit and charitable organizations facing immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic as they continue to support communities.The deadline to apply is February 21st at 5:00pm. Find out if your organization is eligible and how to apply here.
An online CSRF Q & A Session for Grey Bruce community service organizations applying to the Community Services Recovery Fund is happening on February 9 from 4 – 5 pm. Register here.
2023 Emergency Food Access Grant: as food banks struggle with the urgent and increasing need of their communities, Food Banks Canada has a new fund ($2M in funding). Application deadline is February 19th, 2023. For eligibility or apply here:
Re-engaging Retreated Workers: After analyzing the participation rates in the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula Economic Region it was noted that 6,000 workers retreated from the workforce in March of 2020 and were no longer participating in the workforce. With close to 90% of the available workforce between the ages of 25 – 54 (Labour Force Survey 2021 Custom Data Purchase) already participating it is more important than ever to re-engage the workers who have retreated. This report by the Four County Labour Market Planning Board looks at challenges to re-engaging workers in the region.
RentSafe’s new suite of resources on mould aims to support proactive and coordinated action to address one of the most pressing habitability concerns in rental housing. RentSafe baseline research found that dampness and mould is one of the most common health concerns in rental housing.
Transitional and Housing Support Program: Ontario is investing $18.5 million over 3 years to support survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking by increasing access to safe and affordable housing, employment assistance and childcare.
Bruce County Strategic Public Engagement: is underway and seeking initial ideas. Please submit your initial ideas online through the Bruce County 2023-2026 Strategic Plan Public Engagement Survey by Friday, February 10, 2023.
Grey Bruce Health Services Addiction Treatment Services: have released 3 new surveys. Community Addiction Treatment (CATS) Services, Withdrawal Management Services (WMS), and WMS survey for friends and family seeking feedback on program and service needs. CATS survey, WMS survey and WMS Survey for Friends/Family.
City of Owen Sound Community Garden Policy Input: closed on 30 January 2023 with input from Grey Bruce Community Garden Network Coordinator. A feedback report will be presented at the February 15th Community Services Committee. This is the first of its kind in Grey Bruce and sets a good framework for other municipalities/towns and cities.
Seniors Home Share: Bruce County Housing to undertake a local feasibility study with York University. The team from York University is carrying a literature review/best practices analysis and carrying out key informant interviews/focus group discussions. The study results are expected to be released in March 2023. Contact Matt Meade, email@example.com, for further info.
West Grey Public Library Children & Youth Service:Click here to provide input to the programs for kids and teens in West Grey. Contact Kayla, 519-369-2107, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grey Bruce Foodrescue: nearly 60% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted each year according to Second Harvest. 1/3 of that waste is still edible, yet it goes to landfills instead of to those who could use it.
No Frills Owen Sound and Foodland Markdale have been added to the program. OSHaRE continues to be a central hub for pick up, sorting and making surplus food available to community agencies. For more info contact Colleen Seaman, email@example.com or 519-377-7460.
Grey Transit Route (GTR): route changes have been affected by budget and the Flesherton to Hanover/Walkerton route will be canceled in April 2023.
Student Travel: students at Georgian College’s Owen Sound Campus will be able to access free GTR during the winter semester. This will help them getting to and from campus as well as to employment and field placements, co-ops or practicums.
The next Poverty Task Force meeting shall be on Friday, February 17th.
We wish you all a peaceful holiday season. We acknowledge all the hard work each and everyone one of you does to support and uplift our communities. We recognize that many organizations’ staff and community volunteers will continue to work throughout the holidays. Thank you!
Yesterday’s winter Solstice celebration reminds us to honor the changes of the season and our connection to nature. Key outcomes announced this week from COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference and the signing of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework gives us hope that world leaders are taking action.
“We have become the impatient species, too busy to let nature replenish itself and too puffed up with our own sense of importance to acknowledge our utter dependency on its generosity.” – David Suzuki
The Framework recognizes that without a social justice perspective, climate policies risk exacerbating the already unacceptable gap between rich and poor:
High-income families are responsible for a disproportionate share of the emissions that lead to climate change;
Low-income families can’t afford electric cars, retro-fitting homes or other measures that are usually proposed to reduce emissions;
Low-income residents risk being adversely affected by the carbon tax, higher electricity bills and other pricing measures than wealthier citizens.
Climate change is influencing our community wellbeing, creating greater risks to both physical and mental health. Read more about local action:
Creating safe spaces that allow us to recharge in the winter is a luxury. For many, these safe spaces don’t exist but collective efforts are happening to carry out wellness checks, provide support and services. We have a mental health & addiction crisis fueling a homelessness crisis.
Grey Bruce Coordinated Access: reported that in November 2022 there were 198 households active on the By Names List (BNL), with 156 of these households identified as experiencing chronic homelessness.
Bruce County (40 HHs) actively homeless and Grey County (158 HHS) at the time of their referral.
The average number of months experiencing homelessness for households on the BNL is 9.
The average acuity (scale from 1-10) is a 4.5. This would indicate that those experiencing homelessness are from vulnerable demographics and/or experiencing tri-morbidity and/or sleeping rough.
Short Term Shelter Program: will be operating through the holidays. Call 211 for anyone experiencing 211 to access emergency housing support in Grey County and Bruce County. Coordination with hospital discharges and shelter have been anticipated and negotiated to ensure people will be housed.
Despite any bans against accessing services, everyone will be offered a room until January 4th. Outreach workers will be working through the holidays to check on people in motel shelters.
Lower tier municipalities, cities and towns will respond with plans under an Extreme Weather Warning. Warming Stations are listed on 211.
St. Georgen’s Anglican Church: – Open each Thursday (except December 29). 3 to 4:00 p.m. in the Hall – a safe and inclusive space.
Many food hampers, gift cards and toys have been distributed by organizations across Grey Bruce. Many of them required early registration. An incredible outpouring of Christmas cheer meant that many families have support for the holidays. Big and small efforts are always appreciated.
The Salvation Army Owen Sound: provides $40,000 worth of groceries to local families every month. In 2022, they served 800 individuals/month (an increase from 600 individuals in 2021).
St. Aidan’s Grey/Bruce: provided over 10,000 frozen meals for programs across Grey Bruce in 2022.
Owen Sound: takeaway meals served at noon at OSHARE, 946 3rd Ave East. Please call 519-371-0957 for more information. Closed on January 1st. Safe N Sound is hosting a Christmas Dinner for participants on Friday December 23rd at 5:30pm Closed Dec 25th and 26th.
Hanover: Grace United Church, 310 12th Street. Doors open at 11:30am and dinner will be served at 12:00pm. Please let Faye know you’re coming. 519-377-9774.
Wiarton: For residents of the townships of South Bruce Peninsula, a dinner will be available either as sit-down or take-away on December 21st at The Salvation Army Wiarton Community Church. Delivery available. Sit-in: 1 pm & take out: 2:30 pm. Call 519-534-0353. 576 Edward Street.
Saugeen Shores: on December 24th, dinner will be delivered and is heat-and-serve in Saugeen Shores and Saugeen First Nation. Register by Dec 20, 2022. Delivery: Dec 24, 2022, 3 pm-5 pm. To order your delivery, contact Chuck or Linda at: 519-832-6003 or SSChristmasdinner@gmail.com.
Grey Highlands: Registration up to Dec 19, 2022. Pickup: Dec 23, 2022 12:30 pm-2 pm. Gentle Shepherd Community Church (Eugenia Campus; 426176 Concession 8). Call Mary at 519-924-3832 to register.
Kincardine: Register by Tue Dec 20, 2022. Call 519-396-2001. Doors open at 12:30 pm Christmas Day with the meal starting at 1 pm. St Anthony’s of Padus Catholic Church (749 Russell St).
Durham: on Christmas day, doors open at 1 pm and dinner is served at 3 pm. Durham Community Centre, 451 Saddler St W.
GOST: due to the potential weather moving into the area, the GOST afternoon departure at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, December 23, 2022, is cancelled.
Owen Sound Transit: will continue to operate on the regular schedule. When a change to scheduled service is required, customer alerts are posted on the City’s website as soon as possible. For the most up-to-date information, people can check owensound.ca/transit or call Voyago directly at 519-465-0783
Mental Health Supports
The Métis Nation of Ontario is offering a 24HR Mental Health and Addictions (MHA) 24/7 Crisis Line for anyone discharged from hospital, 1-877-767-7572.
It feels like the Grinch is affecting this year’s holiday celebrations with housing/ rental prices rising along with food and other basic needs. Economists are predicting a recession that will continue to impact vulnerable families and our local partners are gearing up to provide emergency support throughout the holiday season.
Rentals.ca reports the average rent in October across Canada was $1,976, across all types of properties, from bachelor apartments to three-bedrooms. That’s an increase of 11.9%, higher than Canada’s inflation rate of 6.9%.
Atlantic Canada has seen rents rise at 32.2% and Ontario at 17.7% in the past year.
For most tenants covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), there’s a maximum amount the landlord can increase the rent by each year. The rent increase guideline for 2023 is 2.5%. Read more on the CLEO: Steps to Justice website to learn the guidelines, understand the exceptions and how a landlord has approval to raise it more.
Statistic Canada has released its latest income inequality data of how well tax filers did in 2020. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives‘ report analysis of this data stated “the pandemic’s economic crisis affected Canadians very differently depending on their income level. The lower the income, the harder the hit—and conversely, the higher the income, the softer the landing.”
However, thanks to pandemic income supports, such as CERB, the bottom 50% of tax filers saw a 20% increase in their total income and the bottom 90% of tax filers—the vast majority of Canadians—saw an 9% increase in total income.
Feed Ontario Hunger Report 2022 has found that that there more people are visiting in 2022 over 2021:
20% increase in food banks usage is 20% in 2022 over 2021
56% increase over the monthly average leading up to the pandemic
64% increase of first-time use of food banks compared to 2021.
47% increase in people with employment accessing food banks since 2018.
Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act
Bill 23 was passed on November 28th, with many organizations and municipalities expressing great concerns that it was introduced without full consultation. A recent Maytree article challenges the government and readers to think differently about the problem to lead us to different solutions.
“Defining this as a crisis of affordable housing and homelessness, rather than simply a crisis of supply, will clarify our goals: who we need to target most urgently (people living in poverty), what their needs are (long-term, affordable, and adequate housing), and who is responsible for delivering (all levels of government).”
Organizations continue to submit feedback to the government:
The Ontario United Ways, Tower Renewal Partnership, and Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership submitted feedback to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on municipal rental replacement by-laws under the Municipal Act, 2001 and City of Toronto Act, 2006.
Good Food Box: prices will increase in January 2023 to $22/box, but the United Way has received funding to keep the current $20/box price for customers through the winter season. Expect to see a price increase in the Spring.
Farmer Wellness Initiative: Ontario farmers and their families can access free counselling sessions. Accessible 24 hrs, 7 days/week, 365 days/year, in English & French, farmers can call 1-866-267-6255 to speak to a counsellor. www.farmerwellnessinitiative.ca
Food for Fines: all Bruce County and many Grey County libraries including Owen Sound are allowing people to bring in non-perishable food items and receive dollars to put towards your fines. The program runs until December 11th, for every non-perishable food item you donate, you will receive $5 put towards your fines.
West Grey Library: has done away with all fines but is still supporting the food banks by offering a Gift Wrapping Station with proceeds to the food bank today.
Safe N Sound: Laundry services are closed while renovations are underway. Clothing is still available along with other supports.
SOS Mobile Outreach Services and Clinics shall run throughout the holidays.
MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS SUPPORT
M’Wikwedong IFC – Renaissance Outpatient Treatment Program: starts Mon, Dec 12th, M-Thurs 12-2:30 for 12 weeks. Registration starts in-person on Monday. Contact Dave Lewis, M’Wikedong IFC Addictions Counsellor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 519-371-1147 ext 236.
Grey Bruce Health Services Wellness & Treatment Centre Community Education Drop-in Session: will take place at TheXchange (825 2nd Ave. E., Owen Sound) on Dec 15th, 4 -7pm. Questions about the session can be sent to email@example.com.
Grey Bruce Crisis Support Program: The Province has announced one-time funding of $500,000 to Grey Bruce Health Services to help expand its Crisis Support Program in 2022-2023. This funding will help sustain and enhance capacity in mental health and addictions services and supports, specifically within the mental health, addictions, eating disorders, complex mental illness sectors.
Community Voices: changing the narrative regarding vulnerable populations is aletter to the editorwritten by Jacob Morris-Wheeler.
Owen Sound Police Services Board, in collaboration with the Owen Sound Police Service, is carrying out a survey on community perceptions of crime, neighbourhood concerns, and satisfaction with police services and public safety in the City of Owen Sound. Survey closes on 31 December 2022.
The Well Community Collective held a stakeholder workshop at Keystone on Nov 29th, 2022 to discuss and promote Youth Wellness Hubs. They seek to collaborate, co-design and partner with youth and communities to create equitable, accessible and low-barrier youth wellness services in Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth counties.
Integrated Youth Services Network of Networks: the Federal government and health partners announced up to $18 million for a Canada wide Integrated Youth Services Network of Networks (IYS-Net) and the development of a Integrated Youth Services National Data Framework and Infrastructure.
Reaching Home Rural and Remote Funding: United Way Simcoe Muskoka has announced that the 2023-2024 call for proposals is now open. Visit their website to learn more. Application deadline is Jan 18th, 2023 at 5:00pm.
Canadian Women’s Foundation Community Needs Grants: is now accepting proposals to support gender justice work, with a focus on small grassroots organizations. Visit their website to learn more. Application deadline is Jan 26th, 2023, 5pm.