Vital Conversation on Housing – Dec 9th 4pm online

Dear Colleagues, 

Do you want to gain a deeper understanding of the housing crisis in Grey Bruce? Do you want to share your perspective on affordable and attainable housing in our area?

Your organization and the public are invited to join us for a Vital Conversation on Housing in Grey Bruce.  This free, online forum is on Thursday, Dec 9th, 2021 from 4-6pm.

The goal of this Vital Conversation is to give participants a deeper understanding of the housing crisis through learning and sharing new perspectives on the issue.

At the Vital Conversation, participants will hear “lightning talks” from four inspiring local guest speakers and will have the chance to participate in smaller group discussions on relevant topics. The guest presenters will be:

  • Diane Giroux: Project Manager for Giiwe at M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre
  • Kee May Ip: Project Coordinator for the Four County Labour Market Planning Board
  • Christine MacDonald: Director of Bruce County Human Services
  • Erica Phipps: Participatory Researcher for RentSafe Owen Sound/EquIP (Equity-focused Intersectoral Practice)

Biographies for each speaker and more information about the online event is available at https://community foundation grey bruce.com/post/?ID=245

Register at the Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/vital-conversation-on-housing-tickets-203909848847 

If interested, register soon as there is limited space for the event.

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 79

Dear Colleagues, 

Today mark’s National Housing Day. National Housing Day is a call to reflect on the challenges that too many Canadians continue to face in accessing safe and affordable housing.

We know that housing service agencies want the community to know where they can find help. Rentsafe Owen Sound has put together this video on where to find help. Contact 211 for local housing services.  

HOUSING SUPPORTS/RESEARCH

HOUSING UTILITY SUPPORTS

  • The Winter Disconnection Ban started and runs until April 30th, 2022. 
    • Electricity and gas distributors are banned from disconnecting residential customers for non-payment from November 15 to April 30. 
    • Electricity and gas distributors have until December 1 to reconnect residential customers who were disconnected for non-payment before November 15.
    • Electricity distributors may not install load control devices (devices that limit how much electricity is supplied to a home) on homes from November 15 to April 30. 
    • Electricity and gas distributors can continue to charge late payment fees on past due amounts during the winter disconnection ban period.
    • It is a tenant’s responsibility to pay an electricity or natural gas bill on time. It is recommended that a tenant make regular payments throughout the ban. If they can’t, the most important thing to do is to stay in contact with their electricity or gas distributor and make payment arrangements, or see if they qualify for financial assistance.
    • For more information on assistance programs for low income families, please visit:https://www.oeb.ca/rates-and…/help-low-income-consumers 
    • The eligibility criteria for LEAP has been temporarily changed for 2021. The following are guidelines that agencies should consider in screening applications: 
      • To be eligible for LEAP EFA, the applicant still needs to be in arrears but does not need to be in threat of disconnection or have been disconnected; and 
      • The limitation on receiving LEAP EFA only once per year is waived; however, the total amount received by a household may not exceed the maximum grant amount of $500 (or $600 for electrically heated) for the year.
    • For more utility support info visit: United Way of Bruce Grey Utility Assistance program, Bruce County LEAP and YMCA Housing Services.

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • Community Meal Programs: demand remains high for food assistance as per the Bruce Grey Food data collected. 
    • The number of meals served in 2021 with November and December yet to come is 140,211 which exceeds the 2020 number of 137,866. 
    • Foodrescue in Grey Bruce at the end of Oct 2021 (with some data to still come in from partners) reports 120,980 lbs = 151 pianos over the 2020 report of 41,213 lbs = 51 pianos. 
  • Community Garden Network: 16,000 kilograms of fresh food was produced by community gardens involved in the Grey Bruce Community Garden Network in 2020. That is the same weight as 40 full size pianos! 
    • 10,000 kilograms of fresh food was donated to food banks/meal programs in Grey Bruce. 
    • In 2020, we had fewer gardens operating for a total of 9821 kg = 27 pianos. 
  • Kincardine Good Food Box: will be offering a new satellite depot in Ripley starting on December 22nd.  

HEALTH EQUITY 

  • Eye exams: Optometrists and the Ontario government are still negotiating services offered under OHIP. Patients are still unable to obtain eye exams, even with offers of private payment. UPDATE: children and seniors will be able to obtain eye exams starting 23 November 2021. Some 15,000 patients/day were not being served.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 78

Dear Colleagues,

As world leaders gather in Scotland for the UN Climate Change summit, we need to consider the deep interconnection between poverty and climate change.  “The impacts of climate change tend to be larger on more vulnerable populations and reinforce existing demographic inequities, highlighting an unfortunate commonality between climate change and COVID-19.” (Grey County Draft CCAP, pg. 25)

People with low income have very little savings and ability to adapt to increased costs of living. The newly proposed general minimum wage of $15.00/hr effective January 1st, 2022, raises the rate from $14.35 but it does not come close to paying a Living Wage. In 2019, Grey Bruce’s Living Wage was calculated at $18.39. People’s ability to relocate to secure jobs and affordable housing requires resources that many people with low income do not currently possess. People who are already affected by food insecurity, will find it even more difficult to put food on the table if climate change impacts food availability like the pandemic has.

The data collected by the Bruce Grey Food Insecurity Data Collection Hub (BruceGreyFood.com) reflects an increase in the number of people accessing community meal programs and food banks under the pandemic. But while the pandemic lockdown has lifted we have not seen a decrease in usage but rather numbers are increasing and new families are accessing these services.

“It is for that reason that as we continue to try and learn from this pandemic, we need to, at the same time, identify ways in which we can apply these learnings in the fight against climate change.” (Grey County Draft CCAP, pg. 25)

The Grey County Draft Climate Change Action Plan is now available for review and comment at Draft Climate Change Action Plan. County staff would welcome feedback on the draft CCAP.  Comments can be sent to the Planning Department at linda.swanston@grey.ca until November 5th, 2021. 

RECONCILIATION BEGINS WITH US

  • Land acknowledgements are an honest and historically accurate way to recognize the traditional First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit territories of a place.  According to Anishinaabe-kwe Wanda Nanibush, land acknowledgements have one goal, regardless of format: they commemorate Indigenous peoples’ principal kinship to the land. Nanibush says “they’re a starting place to a change in how the land is seen and talked about [and they] help redefine how people place themselves in relation to First Peoples.”
  • Treaties Recognition Week. November 1-7th, 2021. It is important to learn about treaties and the transfer/ownership of land as an important part of t of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. As well as understanding what it means to live on Unceded land. 
  • We need to recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ inherent kinship beliefs when it comes to the land, especially since those beliefs were restricted for so long.
  • Learn more about the Treaty history of where we live at: https://www.saugeenojibwaynation.ca/treaty-history
  • We know Ontario would not exist without treaties. https://twitter.com/solmamakwa/status/1455123667168415745?s=27
  • Hear from Saugeen Ojibway Nation Environment Office video with Doran Ritchie sharing Harvesting & SON Rights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4bky7svtxc

MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS SUPPORTS

  • Indigenous Trauma-informed Supports: The provincial government is investing over $36 million to support community-led mental health and addictions in Indigenous communities across the province. This funding will help ensure culturally appropriate and trauma-informed supports are readily available, including supports for Indian Residential School Survivors and their families.

HOUSING SUPPORTS/RESEARCH

  • Spark Housing Initiative, The Meeting Place will be hosting focus groups to gather qualitative data on the housing situation in the Northern Bruce Peninsula. For more information you can reach out to The Meeting Place at 519-596-2313 or info@tobermorymeetingplace.com

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

  • Grey Bruce Virtual Job Fair:  November 23rd from 2-7 pm. Job seekers are encouraged to register early as spaces are limited. Register grey.ca 

DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & EQUITY

  • Grey Bruce Pride: have launched a Community Needs Assessment Survey.  They are asking people in the 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ community how they experience life in Grey Bruce and to suggest ways that you would like to see to make things better in the community. 

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce: announced its Fall Grants with a larger number awarded for food security programming such as expanding community gardens in Meaford, Owen Sound and Durham. As well as a new Community Closet and Pantry at the South East Grey Community Health Centre, and hot food programs or meal classes through the United Way of Bruce Grey, Safe ‘N Sound, Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre, and The Chesley Baptist Church Hot Meal Program.
  • Gateway Centre for Excellence in Rural Health: in partnership with Guelph University they are carrying out a study on food accessibility and insecurity among rural seniors in 4 counties: Huron Perth Bruce and Grey. 
  • Studies show that rural seniors face more significant challenges and are at a greater risk of food insecurity than their urban counterparts. Surveys will be completed by phone with seniors over 70. Please contact Casandra Bryant for any questions at: casandra@gatewayruralhealth.ca 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 77

Dear Colleagues,

Truth and Reconciliation Week might be over, but the work of reconciliation happens every day. To hear more truths from Survivors, Elders and Knowledge Keepers about the residential school system and its effects, visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website and listen to the testimonials collected.  

Take further reflection on Indigenous Perspectives on Poverty Reduction (Tamarack Institute webinar recording) and “Ending Poverty Pathways: Indigenous Poverty” (Tamarack Institute podcast episode) which feature several national and local Indigenous leaders, including Giiwe’s Diane Giroux and Carlos Sanchez-Pimienta. These recordings highlight the imperative of addressing racism and building Indigenous self-determination to reduce poverty. 

RECONCILIATION BEGINS WITH YOU

  • The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund have launched  a video series called Reconciliation Begins With You featuring young Indigenous artists who remind us of the importance of reconciliation.    
  • Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic: Joss Ann Johnston is offering assistance with Indian Day School Settlement Applications.It can be very helpful to have someone with a legal background assist you.  Appointments can be arranged through phone at 519-534-0373.
  • SOAHAC‘s mental health team is also available to provide support during these applications and hold space for you after you have completed them as well. Contact them at (519) 376-5508. 

INCOME & EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

The Ontario government has released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Termwhich outlines the province’s gradual approach to lifting remaining public health and workplace safety measures by March 2022. The plan will be guided by the ongoing assessment of key public health and health care indicators and supported by local or regional tailored responses to COVID-19.

  • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will expire on October 23rd and will be replaced by a new targeted benefit known as the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit that will run until May 7, 2022 (retroactive to October 24, 2021).  
  • Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit will be for those whose work is directly impacted by government-imposed lockdowns and will provide $300 a week to eligible workers.
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will remain in place until the same time and are being extended by two weeks – moving the sickness benefit from 4 to 6 weeks and the caregiving benefit from 42 to 44 weeks.
  • Community Legal Aid Ontario (CLEO):CLEO has updated and new information about the law and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • GIS/CERB Clawback for Seniors: clarification has been received from the government on why some seniors are experiencing clawback. Seniors who were employed by a company and claimed CERB through Service Canada will not be subject to clawback. However, those who were independently employed and filed through the CRA directly are subject to clawback. We have seen the impact of the clawback resulting in loss of GIS and portable housing benefits for seniors. 
  • The Poverty Task Force has joined over 100 organizations and the Income Security Advocacy Centre in sending a joint letter to the government requesting GIS be restored to low income seniors. 
  • The government has proposed new legislation for workers. Ontario may become the first jurisdiction in Canada to require employers with 25 employees or more to develop disconnecting from work policies.  
  • These workplace policies could include, for example, expectations about response time for emails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working.
  • Measures proposed earlier this month will also be part of this legislation. This includes making it easier for internationally-trained individuals to practice in regulated professions, protecting vulnerable workers by establishing a licensing framework for recruiters and temporary help agenciesensuring washroom access for delivery workers by requiring business owners to allow them to use the washrooms at the businesses they serve, and supporting businesses who continue to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19. 
  • Many of the proposed changes were informed by the recommendations made by the experts of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, based on their consultations with workers, employers, and unions. 
  • Internet Access: The Ontario government is providing nearly $1.5 million to help bring high-speed internet access to more than 900 homes and businesses across the province  The funding is being delivered through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program and will help bring high-speed internet access to several areas including Saugeen Shores and Kincardine.
  • West Grey Public Library is working with It’s Personal.Period. to offer menstrual products without charge at our branches in Durham, Ayton and Neustadt.  They are also working with the Durham Foodland, to set up a donation box there, and with the Durham Food Bank, to arrange delivery of any excess product donations by our patrons and visitors.

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Indigenous Housing Support Program: on Thursdays staff from M’Wikwedong IFC will be based out of 854 2nd Ave East aka the Housing Outreach Wellness (HOW) Centre (everyone just calls it “854”). to provide access and support. Contact the IHSP team at 519-375-1468. 
  • Other services at HOW/854 include the CMHA Outreach Team that are on site daily and Grey Bruce Health Services Mental Health Team who run a drop-in clinic on Mondays from 1-3pm.
  • YMCA Housing: 140 people are housed in motels in October for a total cost of 600 nights. 6,500 nights were paid for in the first 6 months of this year. The YMCA has now dedicated 1 full-time staff person to be a Landlord Outreach Worker.  
  • Bruce County and Grey County Homelessness Enumeration: chronic homelessness was high amongst the people interviewed during the survey this year. Some 200 people were interviewed and the numbers are still to be confirmed. A report will go to both County councils in 2022.  
  • The Women’s Centre and Women’s House areback to full capacity under the government’s COVID guidelines. However, the Women’s House is full and people are on wait lists. But people should still call and will be helped or housed elsewhere. The Women’s Centre has opened up some new space with renovations happening to accomodate more people. 
  • The Ontario Energy Board has announced no changes to electricity prices for households and small businesses.  
  • Electricity and gas distributors are banned from disconnecting residential customers for non-payment from November 15 to April 30. Electricity and gas distributors have until December 1 to reconnect residential customers who were disconnected for non-payment before November 15. 
  • Housing partners have seen very high hydro bills in arrears. This may be a result of disconnection bans which have allowed for accumulation for those who have not contributed to bill payments. 
  • Winter Community Emergency Shelter information is being updated but the main contact information from 2020 is valid. Please note the following change for 2021: 
    • Safe N Sound will be offering an evening (5pm-9:30pm) warming station Monday to Saturday with peer support/life skills programming. 
    • Hanover Missionary Church will be offering a warming station on Thursdays, 11:30am-1:30pm.
  • Rentsafe Landlord Survey has been extended to November 15th. Please share out widely with landlords you work with and encourage them to complete this survey. https://www.surveymonkey.ca/r/NCLWY3M

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • Eat Local Grey Bruce is currently researching product price comparison. We would like to further investigate this topic and are calling on volunteers from all of our member regions to gather pricing data. If you’re interested, please contact Jeannine Kralt, elgbwarehouse@gmail.com.

HEALTH EQUITY SUPPORTS

  • The Health Outreach C.A.R.E. has begun in Owen Sound and continues in Hanover on alternative weeks. Posters are issued weekly. Please post. 

Stay well, Jill