Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 60

Dear Colleagues, 

As anticipated, the government has announced another 2 weeks of lockdown until June 2nd. 

As the pandemic continues, we are seeing rising housing costs as a gap in our social safety net. A strong argument is being made that increasing support directed at housing costs would go a long way to close a critical gap.

When it comes to jobs, debt and housing, Canada’s economic trajectory has split into two, data shows. It’s what economists refer to as a “K-shaped” recovery. The rich are getting richer, the poor getting poorer. There is a risk that the longer the economic recovery takes more people will fall off the upper arm of the “K”.  

And the majority of those would probably be women, who are both more likely to work in pandemic-sensitive jobs and more likely to have to stop or scale back working if schools remain closed. 

HOUSING SUPPORTS  

  • The Ontario government is supporting the creation of a First Nations Economic Growth and Prosperity Table (Prosperity Table) to help support economic advancement and well-being of Indigenous communities.
  • Giiwe Circles:  the video of the Rural Communities Ending Poverty workshop at the End of Poverty Summit (Tamarack) at 19:23 mins features Diane Giroux and Carlos Sanchez-Pimienta.  
  • Emergency Shelter: since Jan 2021, YMCA housing has provided 3,279 nights of shelter for 474 people. The program is funded by Grey County and Bruce County. Grey County has seen a 500% cost increase for emergency housing under the pandemic. 
  • Bruce County Home Repair Program is taking applications now. If you have a home valued at $340,000.00 or less and your income is $75,000.00 per year or less, you can apply for a forgivable loan up to $15,000.00.
  • Grey County Ontario Renovates: house limits at $250,000 (they use MPAC for house values which tend to be lower) and income of $60,000 (slightly flexible). 
  • Saugeen Shores Attainable Housing: a new townhouse development in Port Elgin will include 22 secondary units. The Council bylaw has approved the project to encourage more affordable housing. 
  • Reaching Home Funding contribution-type funding is available under the Community Capacity and Innovation (CCI) component. This is a funding component of Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy .Organizations can request a contribution of $ 100,000 to $ 600,000 over 3 years. The deadline is June 11, 2021. 
  • Grey County  Housing and Homelessness Plan Update 2021: was presented to Grey County Council today.  
    • Rising market rents and a low vacancy rate have made finding affordable housing difficult for those in low income brackets. 
    • According to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the average market rent in Grey County for a one bedroom is $817 a month. Across Grey County a one-bedroom ranges from $800-$1250 a month, often without the inclusion of utilities. 
    • There are 620 Grey County residents on the Grey County Housing Waitlist, 74 with no current address, 27 Bruce County residents and 192 residents from outside Grey County for a total of 913 applicants.
    • In 2020, the Affordable Housing Task Force was created and an Action Plan for creating affordable housing units was developed. 

FOOD SUPPORTS

  • Grey Bruce Community Food Program list has been updated for May 2021. 
  • Food Safety webinar: Second Harvest is offering a free webinar on food safety in the non-profit sector on June 2, 2021 at 1:30 pm.  Register here
  • Foodthoughts.ca continues to profile community food programs, provide best practices and tools for community food programs. 
  • Keeping Not-For-Profits Connected During COVID19: Salvation Army Owen Sound and OSHaRE continue to offer surplus food to Grey Bruce food banks and community meal programs. This is food obtained through FeedOntario, Canada Food Banks, Foodrescue or other bulk donations. 
  • Feeding Families, Restaurant Relief continues to expand. This is a win/win for restaurants and our community! Please spread the word. Businesses and restaurants can find more info and forms here to sign up for the program.

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • Bruce County Master Transportation Plan Study:  Bruce County is undertaking a Master Transportation Plan (MTP) Study to create a safe and reliable transportation system. The 2nd online presentation and survey can be found at www.brucecounty.on.ca/mtp until May 21, 2021.
  • Greyhound Buses: it was announced today that the bus line will stop operating in Canada.  

HEALTH EQUITY 

  • Ontario Seniors Dental Care Programthe government announced new eligibility thresholds for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and the Seniors Co-Payment Program to allow more seniors to have access to dental care and affordable prescription medications. 
  • Starting August 1st, 2021, eligibility thresholds for both programs will be updated to reflect cost of living increases in Ontario and align with income support programs for seniors. 
  • Income thresholds will be updated for single Ontarians aged 65 and over, from $19,300 to $22,200, and for couples with a combined annual income, from $32,300 to $37,100. 
  • National Dental Program: doctors are calling for a national program that would meet the gaps in existing services. 
    • 1 in 5 Canadians don’t go to the dentist because of the cost. 
    • 1/3 of Canadians do not have dental insurance to cover part of the cost.  (Statistics Canada)  
  • Last week, during a federal debate over an NDP motion for a national dental-care program, there was support to carry out a parliamentary study to fully understand the data on unmet dental care needs at a national level.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 59

Dear Colleagues, 

Today many of us have joined the Tamarack Institute’s End of Poverty AGM. Over 70 communities across Canada have come together (700 adults/92 people with lived experience and 350 youth). The conference is using an interactive Howspace digital platform. Check it out! It is very dynamic. 

  • Tamarack officially launched their new name – shifting from “Cities Reducing Poverty” to “Communities Ending Poverty”.  This recognizes the work being down in rural communities as well as cities. 
  • Mayor Naheed Nenshi, City of Calgary was the keynote speaker. He leads Calgary’s Enough for All poverty reduction strategy and roundtable. Their motto is “My neighbours’ strength is my strength. My neighbours’ success is my success. My neighbours’ failure is my failure.”  Mayor Nenshi spoke to the fact that we are “all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat”.
    • Women, people living in racialized communities and in poverty are hardest hit by COVID. 
    • People living in poverty are at higher risk to COVID. 
    • The pandemic has widened the income gap.  
  • People with Lived Experience Perspective: a video was featured which included members of our Community Voices. 
  • Rural Communities reducing poverty workshop: our Indigenous-led Giiwe Circles team of Diane Giroux, M’Wikwedong IFC and Carlos Sanchez-Pimienta, Queen’s University gave a powerful presentation on its trasformative model.
    • Giiwe gave a strong message that we need to invest more in relationships and building trust if we are to address reconciliation issues, and Indigenous homelessness.  
    • Giiwe creates a safe space to discuss very uncomfortable and sometimes “messy and slow” issues.  But if we stay with those feelings we can transform how we work and be more successful in the work we do; and more importantly in improving Indigenous peoples’ lives. 

Yesterday, we took time to recognize Missing and Murdered Indigneous Women and join the Calls for Justice.  

  • Human rights and Indigenous rights abuses and violations condoned by the  Canadian government have resulted in the denial of safety, security and human dignity. They are the root causes of the violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA. 
  • The Calls for Justice come from the National Enquiry –  Reclaiming Power and Place and call upon all Canadians and sectors to end systemic violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA. 

 FOOD SECURITY

  • Food Secure Canada has released its comments on the Federal Budget 2021. 
  • Meals2Motels: is a partnership to provide meals (hot and frozen) to individuals and families sheltering in motels (Owen Sound and Chatsworth). 
    • 92,840 meals have been delivered in the last year.
    • January 2021 was the busiest month with over 1,200 meals delivered. February was the largest single week with 370 meals delivered.  
    • 252 hampers with multi-purpose kettles were created and all but 39 pre-positioned/distributed at motels. 
    • On Fridays the people receive Friday’s supper (hot), Saturday lunch supper (cold) Sunday lunch and supper (frozen). 
    • On Mondays United Way staff make an extra run with a Monday lunch.
  • Many partners deliver this program – the YMCA Housing, M’Wikwedong and the Women’s Centre shelter people in motels and maintain a daily number. OSHaRE cooks and assembles meals, along with frozen meals prepared by the St Aiden’s Frozen Meal program. Habitat for Humanity (Apr to Nov 2020) and the United Way (Nov to now) deliver the food daily. 
  • Grey County funds the daily mileage cost and staffing costs have been covered by the partner organizations. 
  • For more information on this initiative: United Way of Bruce Grey 519-376-1560, Y-Housing Joan Chamney, 519-371-9230, OSHaRE Colleen Trask- Seaman, 519-376-3899. 
  • Good Food Box:  Hanover Good Food Box started up at John Diefenbaker Secondary School led by Dawn MacKay (dawn_mackay@bwdsb.on.ca). With the school closed they are working in partnership with the Salvation Army Hanover to provide a location. (see attached poster).    
  • The Sponsored Box program is underway. Agencies and community donations can pre-pay for boxes. When sponsored boxes are purchased, tokens are distributed. Tokens may be used by customers at any GFB location but they must submit their tokens in advance of pickup.  
  • Agencies interested in purchasing tokens or receiving community donations for their clients may contact gbgoodfoodbox@gmail.com
  • Donations to purchase Good Food Box tokens for households in need can be made through OSHaRE (gbgoodfoodbox@gmail.com). A $200 donation will provide a household with a monthly Good Food Box for 1 year. 

HEALTH EQUITY 

  • Frontline organizations in Ontario will soon have access to free, rapid, self-administered COVID-19 screening tests through a new program called Stop the Spread and Stay Safe. The program, run by the Canadian Red Cross in partnership with the Government of Canada, is now accepting pre-registration from organizations in Ontario. 
  • To qualify, organizations must be a charity or non-profit, or an Indigenous community organizations with five (5) personnel (staff and volunteers) who work in close proximity to each other or have direct contact with community members.

YOUTH AND MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS

  • Sick Kids-led study (Feb 2021) found more than 70% of children aged 2 to 18 years expressed feeling lonely, overwhelmed, sleepless, worried, sad, irritable, anxious or stressed during the first wave, with isolation posing a significant risk factor.
  • Education Minister Stephen Lecce is set to announce an $80 million fund for school boards to hire up to 1,000 additional mental health workers for the next two years. 
  • Tamarack has been supporting youth outcomes through its Youth Futures Initiative Tamarack Institute and the Government of Canada, through the Goal Getters program, have committed to a 5-year pan-Canadian project to develop collective impact and system-wide solutions for youth as they build and act upon plans for their future   

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 58

Dear Colleagues, 

Health equity issues continue to dominate the news and our meetings as we ride this Third Wave. Organizations continue to provide analysis on the Federal Budget 2021 such as the United Way Eastern Ontario and call on the government for more support. 

Medical professionals, policy makers and social service organizations are calling for paid sick days programs in Ontario that are universal, fully paid, adequate, permanent, and accessible.

  • The Provincial government announced a $500 top up to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)You are eligible if you miss at least 50% of your work week. However, there remains challenges for workers: 
    • Taking a day or two off for a test or vaccine is not covered. 
    • Time delays to process and receive payment.  
    • Workers need 10 permanent sick days with an additional 14 for public health emergencies.
  • The Provincial government has subsequently announced the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Program to address part of the challenges. Itwill require employers to provide employees with up to $200 of pay for up to 3 days if they are missing work because of COVID-19.
    • Workers who are sick or are experiencing symptoms, who need to get vaccinated or have COVID-19-related mental health issues will qualify for the benefit. 
    • This program will be retroactive to April 19, 2021 and effective until September 25, 2021, the date the CRSB will expire.    
    • It will be administered by the WSIB and the provincial government will reimburse employers 100%  of the employee’s wage up to $200 a day.   
    • Employers and their workers can call a dedicated COVID-19 Sick Days Information Centre hotline at 1-888-999-2248 or visit Ontario.ca/COVIDworkerbenefit to get more information and updates about the proposed Ontario COVID-19 paid leave days.
  • Non-Emergency Transportation Costs:  ICUs are full in the GTA and patients are being moved to any available ICUs in Ontario. Recently, a family in Toronto had to pay $1,062.00 for the return of a loved one who had passed away. For those who are uninsured, this cost along with funeral costs is a difficult one to bear. 
    • The Province has said they are taking steps to ensure other families don’t endure the same situation. This family will be reimbursed by the government. 
  • Grey Bruce COVID-19 Vaccine App:  a new app has been developed in partnership with the Grey Bruce Health Unit, Bruce Power and NPX Innovation.
    • This application is now available free to download from the Google Play and Apple Stores for all mobile devices and tablets. To download, enter ‘gbvaccineapp’ into the search bar. You can also click these hyperlinks from your mobile device to take you directly to the App in the stores.:
    • The app aims to help you book your appointment, find locations and provide information on COVID19 and the Grey Bruce Vaccination Plan. 

FOOD SUPPORTS 

  • Keeping Not-For-Profits Connected under COVID: This week, OSHaRE shared over 1,600lbs of food with 8 different community partners across Grey and Bruce County. All of this food came through Food Rescue from local businesses. Thank you to these local businesses – National Grocers (Owen Sound), Zehrs (Owen Sound), Shoppers Drug Mart (Eastside Owen Sound), Shoppers Drug Mart (Downtown Owen Sound) and Shoppers Drug Mart (Port Elgin).
  • We track the amount of food rescued locally at: https://www.foodbrucegrey.com/
  • Since May 2020, 50,628.12 kilograms of food has been rescued and turned into community meals;non-perishables have been donated to food banks. 
  • Food Rescue is approaching almost 20 tons of food that has been diverted to meal programs and food banks since January 2021. To put that number in perspective, since the start of the pandemic, the food banks have distributed 82 tons of food throughout Grey/Bruce.  Not only does food rescue help feed our vulnerable clients; the environmental cost of wasted food globally would make it the third largest country in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.  
  • Community Meal Programs:   March represented the highest number of meals distributed yet during the pandemic at almost 16,000, the need is not decreasing, in fact due to the skyrocketing price of housing and the lack of rental accommodation, the food insecurity may be getting worse.  
  • Volunteer hours: since January 2021, almost 9,000 hours of volunteer time has been donated to community food programs.   
  • Good Food Box: the Wiarton GFB will be running in May! Be advised that many of the GFB do not run in July/August due to the availability of fresh, local produce. 
  • Bruce County has purchased a quantity of tokens and if you are working with clients that are connected with Bruce County supports you can coordinate the distribution of tokens. Contact Tania Dickson. 

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • Income Taxes are to be filed by April 30th. If you have missed filing your taxes on time, you can still file but do so as soon as possible. Here are some things to know:
  • If you owe taxes because of COVID-19 related benefits, the Canada Revenue Agency is giving people 1 year of interest relief. This means interest will not be added to your debt until April 30th, 2022. This gives you a year to pay all or a portion of the debt without penalty.
  • If you are eligible for the GST/HST Credit or the Canada Child Benefit, it will not be garnished to pay tax debt for the foreseeable future. The only way to get these credits and benefits is to file your taxes.
  • If you are receiving COVID-19 related benefits, like CRB, the Canada Revenue Agency will need your 2020 tax information to determine if you are still eligible for these programs. Missing the April 30th deadline could delay you receiving those benefits for up to 2 months. But you can still file after April 30th. Do so as soon as possible. 
  • We encourage people to speak to an OW/ODSP worker or contact CRA to establish a repayment plan.
  • Please note that the CRA does NOT text people regarding their income tax filing. Scams are going around right now regarding CERB, etc. so please advise people.
  • Many of the FREE Community Volunteer Income Tax Clinics in Bruce County and Grey County continue past April 30th. Call 211 for more information about your closest income tax clinic or visit https://centraleastontario.cioc.ca/record/GRE0364.
  • The Income & Employment Action Group is collecting stories of people’s challenges with income tax filing this year. 
    • This year we have seen challenges with people who applied for CERB and then received letters in December 2020 that they were not eligible. Some people on ODSP owe back upto $10,000. 
    • People are reluctant to file taxes despite a 1 year interest free offer from the government on the repayment.
  • Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit: On April 26, the Ontario Government began issuing payments of:
    • $400 for each child or youth up to Grade 12
    • $500 for each child or youth up to age 21 with special needs.
    • If you received a payment through the Support for Learners program, you do not need to apply for this additional payment. If you missed applying for the Support for Learners program, you can apply for this new benefit between May 3rd and May 17th. 
  • Disability Tax Credit: The Federal government announced as part of the Federal Budget 2021 it will make it easier to qualify for the disability tax credit (DTC) by expanding eligibility in the areas of mental functions and life-sustaining therapy.
    • For 2021, the value of the DTC is $1,299. A valid DTC certificate is required to access a variety of tax-related programs and benefits, such as the Registered Disability Savings Plan, the Child Disability Benefit and the disability supplement to the Canada Workers Benefit.
    • This may have a significant impact on eligibility for ODSP. 
  • CLEO has just put out new Legal Rights Literacy Kits. These kits are free to download. They include resources on Employment Rights, Consumer Rights, and Tenants; Rights. https://cleoconnect.ca/learning-opportunities/lesson-plans-for-adult-learners/cleos-legal-rights-kits/

TRAUMA SUPPORT

  • The Women’s Centre Grey Bruce is offering free counselling service for women and children in the community who have experienced abuse.  This includes women who have experienced partner abuse, mothers needing support in developing parenting skills, and youth who have experienced abuse or trauma. Contact Carlie  Freiburger at 519-376-0755 ext. 104 or carlief@thewomenscentre.org.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 57

Dear Colleagues, 

This week is dominated by the release of the Federal Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and ResilienceThe budget extends current emergency support programs as well as what the Federal government calls “generational investments”  such as the Canada-wide early learning and child care system. 

We list a series of budget analyses from different perspectives that all applaud the government for making important investments but also identify what more needs to be done:  

Some quick highlights:  

  • National Child Care: To bring more women into the workforce, the federal government announced $30 billion over 5 years and $8.3 billion a year afterward to create and sustain early learning and child-care programs. Anticipate a 50% reduction in child care costs by the end of 2022, and forecast that the average cost of daycare will be further reduced to $10 a day by 2025/26.
  • Old Age Security: seniors 75 years of age or older are getting a one-time taxable grant payment of $500, to arrive in August. The federal government will boost Old Age Security for the same age group by 10% annually, starting in July 2022.
  • Federal minimum wage: bring forward legislation to establish a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, rising with inflation. The minimum wage would stay higher in provinces where the hourly rate is already above $15 per hour,
  • Sickness benefits: extending the EI sickness benefit from 15 to 26 weeks and continuing to offer COVID-19-prompted caregiving support in the short-term. 
  • COVID 19 Emergency wage subsidy, rent subsidy and lockdown supports extended to Sept. 25, with plans to start gradually reducing support payments beginning in July. Those subsidies could be further extended to Nov. 20 if pandemic conditions demand it.
  • Canada Recovery Benefit aimed at people who aren’t covered by employment insurance (EI), though the $500-a-week support will drop to $300 per week after July 17.
  • Housing: an additional $2.5 billion over 7 years including $1.5 billion for the Rapid Housing Initiative, plus expansion of the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund and $315.4 million for the Canada Housing Benefit. 
    • $600 million over 2 years will be allocated from the Rental Construction Financing Initiative to help convert vacant office and commercial properties into rental housing. 
    • national vacant home tax targeted to non-Canadian residents.
  • Canada Recovery Hiring Program will provide qualifying employers with up to $1,129 per week for employees hired between June 6, 2021 and November 20, 2021. 
  • Youth Employment: $371.8 million in new funding for Canada Summer Jobs. The program provides a 100% wage subsidy for youth employed in the nonprofit sector.
    • pledges to spend $5.7 billion on youth over the next 5 years to help them access education and find jobs.
    • The federal government is extending the 6-month moratorium on all student loan repayments to March 31, 2023, at a cost of $392.7 million in 2022-23. 
    • Extend the doubling of Canada Student Grants for a further 2 years until the end of July 2023.
  • Indigenous people: plans to spend more than $18 billion over the next five years to try to narrow the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and help these communities fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • $31.5 million over 2 years for the co-development of an action plan with Indigenous partners to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund additional $200 million and a new $100 million investment in the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative
  • Community Services Recovery Fund: $400 million to support the non-profit and charity sector due to the loss of fundraising; and the essential work of independent, small and medium organizations that serve targeted vulnerable populations. 
  • Investment Readiness program: extended by another 2 years with a commitment of $50 million. 
  • Universal Broadband Fund: an additional $1 billion over the next 6 years to accelerate the rollout of broadband projects and increase access to high-speed internet in rural and remote communities.  

While there are a lot of positive measures, there is some risk that money promised over multiple years or dependent on provincial negotiations may not become reality. So what are some gaps in the budget – what is missing? 

  • Basic Income/Pharmacare: the budget did not deliver on universal basic income (UBI) or pharmacare, both of which were key areas of focus at recent federal political policy conventions. However, the government committed to engaging with willing partners on national universal pharmacare, though identified it as an initiative that can be advanced at the provincial and territorial level.  
  • Affordable Housing: not enoughfunds to meet the rapidly growing need for safe, affordable housing across the country, due to pre-existing affordability challenges that have been compounded by the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on low-income and other marginalized communities.  
  • Addressing rural and remote housing:according to the National Alliance to End Rural and Remote Homelessness, rural communities make up 30% of Canada’s population but do not have the same access to housing or homelessness funding through Reaching Home and the National Housing Strategy. Budget 2021 does make investments in northern housing, but it’s unclear at this point if new Budget 2021 investments will reach rural and remote communities. 
  • Indigenous Housing: no dedicated funds to support an Indigenous-led strategy for urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing to address the disproportionate rates of Indigenous core housing need and poverty, and advance along the path to reconciliation. 
  • Strengthening Public Health:  health and socioeconomic circumstances are always connected, not just in pandemic circumstances.Transformative change for wellbeing and health equity demands a comprehensive vision for improving people’s living conditions and tackling inequities in money and power. 
  • Sick Leave Benefits: the Provincial government is now considering a Provincial paid sick leave which will fill in ‘gaps’ in the Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit. Ontario’s Science Advisory Table has identified paid sick leave as a critical component of the Province’s third wave response, allowing ill front-line workers to isolate themselves if they experience symptoms of COVID-19.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force welcomes the positive direction of this Federal Budget 2021 but will continue to advocate for equitable support to our rural communities and most vulnerable populations by advocating for and promoting: 

  • safe and affordable housing,
  • decent work and liveable wages,
  • health equities, 
  • diversity/inclusion of people with lived experience,
  • and Indigenous-led strategies and programs.

The Poverty Task Force shall discuss the Federal Budget 2021 on Friday, April 23rd at 10am.  

FOOD SUPPORTS

  • HAPPY EARTH DAY! The Community Garden Network will be hosting a Healing in the Gardens workshop on April 26th. Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87108727323
  • The Good Food Box remains open for the majority of its 18 locations. The following locations are paused for April/May:  Wiarton, Meaford, Markdale, Thornbury, Port Elgin and Hanover. 
  • Community Hot Meal programs are posted daily on 211. They can be accessed at: https://www.informationbrucegrey.ca/ There have been a few closures due to building maintenance, COVID19, etc. but the latest are posted. 
  • The Wiarton Salvation Army will be closed for 10 days for maintenance work on their building. They will be providing a non-perishable food hamper and perishable items will be available from the Owen Sound Salvation Army. The Tara Food Bank distributed 20 people over the Easter Weekend and are anticipating more people during this lockdown. The Owen Sound Salvation Army is serving some 700 people on a regular basis. 
  • SUSTAIN Ontario is preparing a report on Grey Bruce and innovative solutions to food security as part of a Best Practice Report. Interviews will be coordinated by our Grey Bruce Community Garden Network Coordinator, Simona Freibergova. 

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • Community Volunteer Income Tax Program: while many clinics are not operating this year, there are several listed on 211 that will continue to do drop-offs/pickups or via phone/email year round such as the YMCA and South East Grey Community Health Centre.  ODSP are seeing many clients who collected CERB when they were ineligible and are fearful of filing their taxes. 
  • There are several critical reason to file income tax on time 
    • you must file on time to continue any COVID-related benefits. 
    • you must file on time to obtain income statements to qualify for programs such as Geared To Income Housing, utility, financial and legal supports; Seniors’ Dental Clinics, etc. Note: GTI Housing clients can contact County Housing, if they have not filed or have difficulty obtaining an income statement. 
    • you must file on time to obtain child tax benefits and other benefits. Note: OW/ODSP clients can receive Transitional Child Benefits for upto 3 months if they don’t file on time. This can be extended monthly but they will need to manage the refund.  
    • CVITP partners will often check to ensure clients are also signing up for other support programs like CEAP. 
  • The Income & Employment Action Group will work on social media messages via videos, etc. to encourage more people to file and provide a Q&A on filing this year.    

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Safe ‘N Sound will be hosting a Women’s Life Skills Program every Thursday from 5pm-9pm starting April 22nd for 10 weeks. Topics include Mental and Physical Health. It is free and open to all women.
  • Vaccination pop-up clinics: Housing partners have been actively involved in organizing vaccination clinics for congregate settings and those with limited access to phones/internet to access appointments. Staff were able to convince a lot of people at clinics to walk in the door and get vaccinated. There is still a lot of vaccine hesitancy and need for education. The pop-up clinics in locations where people go for services or motel/housing locations have been successful. 
  • Giiwe Circle will be a panel presenter at the upcoming The End of Poverty national summit held by Tamarack Institute on May 5-6th. The Poverty Task Force still has free seats available for this event.

ORGANIZATION SUPPORTS

  • The Trillium Foundation announced $531,700 was granted locally under its Resilient Communities Fund.  
  • Grey County has endorsed a declaration of mutual commitment and friendship with M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre. They are vowing to strengthen their relationship and continue working together on ways to improve the quality of life of Indigenous people living off-reserve in the area. 

Stay well, Jill