Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 55

Dear Colleagues, 

A shout out to everyone that has stepped up to work the vaccination centres today that are continuing!! And for those continuing to work the frontlines. I am truly inspired by everyone!! 

What has changed? What is still on-going? 

  • Please remember to update 211 with any significant changes. 

While most social services are already working remotely under the Provincial Stay-At-Home orders below are a few updates from various partners.

  • The SOAHAC vaccine clinic scheduled for Friday, held at Bayshore, will proceed as planned. However, if people are symptomatic, they will need to cancel their appointment. If they have any questions or concerns please call SOAHAC at 519-376-5508.
  • Aged-based public vaccination clinics will be closed on Saturday but targeted vulnerable clinics are still going on.
  • OSHaRE will be open today from 11:30-1 and 4:30-6 for those in our community who need meals. They will be putting extra precautions in place for at least the next 48 hours including handing out meals outside so that guests don’t have to enter the building (less contact surfaces) and decreasing the number of volunteers in the building. OSHaRE office will be closed so they can focus all their efforts on getting meals ready.
  • Meal2Motels will be delivered as long as OSHaRE is producing meals. The United Way have a skeleton crew working for the next 48 hrs and all other staff are working remotely.
  • Saugeen First Nation has closed all non-essential offices for the next two days. Housing and health supports are down to a skeleton crew. No new intakes and reduced supports are available.
  • Indigenous Housing Support program:  staff will be remaining at home and abiding by Public Health directives. Following a return to our regular-stay-at-home order staff will continue to work remotely but can deliver items of need such as donations, hygiene products, good food boxes, groceries, etc to direct service users via curbside drop-offs. Contact Rachel for emergencies @ 226-568-5242.
  • Attached is the Grey Bruce Community Housing List of Services under lockdown conditions. Please let me know of any changes/updates that I might have missed.
  • Targeted emergency child care for school-aged children of first responders, health care professionals, and other eligible workers will remain available through Bruce County and Grey County.
  • Grey County has closed all forests and trails for 48 hours.
  • While all Grey County-owned public spaces are closed until Saturday, all services will continue to be offered remotely via email or by calling 1‑800‑567‑4739.
  • While Bruce County offices remain closed to the public, they continue to provide services to all clients via email or by calling 1-800-265-3005. 

Please let us know if there are updates we can share out!

Stay well, Jill

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 54

Dear Colleagues, 

Changes continue to be announced under the lockdown by the Ontario government. And yesterday the Grey Bruce Health Unit announced we are at a critical threshold of COVID19 cases and requested people to close down for 48 hours in an attempt to manage the rise in numbers. This is in addition to the Stay-At-Home order. 

  • The closure of schools after the April school break, closures of before and after school care. Daycares will remain open.
  • Health unit staff are shutting down the COVID-19 information line in order to free up resources to follow-up with contacts who may have been exposed. 
  • The large vaccine clinic scheduled for Saturday has been closed. The vaccine clinics for the remainder of this week will continue, but consideration is being given to closing next week’s clinics in order to minimize the risk of people gathering as well as allowing public health staff to be redeployed.
  • Everyone across Grey Bruce needs to consider themselves a carrier for the next 48 hours until the Health Unit reaches all cases and their contacts. It is a priority that everyone stay at home except for essential travel.
  • Individuals who are symptomatic are asked to attend assessment clinics: https://bit.ly/2ZNbYls

Four County Labour Market Planning Board has released a new Precarious Employment Report 2021.   Some key findings concerning the prevalence of precarious employment in the four county area are as follows: 

  • Between 2010 and 2019, the four county region had a greater proportion of part-time workers than the Ontario average; 
  • Long-term (60+ months) part-time employment with the same employer is more prevalent in the four county region than it is on average across Ontario; 
  • The number of individuals and families living in low income situations varies in each of the four counties, with Grey County having the greatest incidence of low income families and individuals; 
    • The incidence of low income couple families ranges from 6.2% in Grey County to 4.9% in Perth County, considerably lower than 10.6% in Ontario; 
    • The incidence of low income lone parent families ranges from 33.3% in Grey County to 24.5% in Perth County, compared to 32.2% in Ontario;  
    • The incidence of low income non-family persons (individuals) ranges from 29.6% in Grey County to 23.4% in Perth County, compared to 34.7% in Ontario.  

COMMUNITY SERVICES SUPPORTS

As part of the Government of Canada’s pre-budget consultations, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, National Association of Friendship Centres, United Way Centraide Canada, YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada have come together to call on the federal government for the establishment of a Community Services COVID-19 Relief Fund.

  • The 2021 federal budget will be tabled on April 19, but there is still time to advocate for the vulnerable people we serve. Please use this tool to quickly and easily send a letter directly to Prime Minister Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, Minister Hussen, MP Ben Lobb and/or MP Alex Ruff calling on the federal government to support charities and nonprofits in Budget 2021.  

HEALTH EQUITY

A lot of partners are working to ensure that vulnerable populations are able to access opportunities to be vaccinated.  

  • Maad’ookiing Mshkiki/Sharing Medicine put out this conversation about vaccine hesitancy from a culturally informed and safe perspective: First Nations, Inuit and Metis Perspectives and knowledge sharing on COVID19 Vaccines.  
  • Please contact Shannon Marchand at SOAHAC for a booking for any Indigenous People to get vaccinated (519-376-5508 ex. 2045). 
  • YMCA Housing has been actively supporting clinics for people being sheltered. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced just how foundational medicare is. Many Canadians forgo routine care because they can’t afford it, leaving small problems to fester and grow. Our current system not only stresses our individual wallets, it also puts additional strain on our health-care system.

  • 1 in 3 Canadians lack dental care insurance.
  • 55% of Grey Bruce adults have no dental care insurance. 

As we recover from the effects of the pandemic, we must strengthen oral health care. 

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Residential eviction ban has been announced under the stay-at-home order but with no detailed directives. 
  • The Town of South Bruce Peninsula reminded residents that short-term rentals are banned in Ontario during the stay-at-home order except for those who have no other available housing.
  • North Bruce Peninsula Municipality has released its Recommendations on Short Term Accommodations in October 2020.  A Special Council meeting on March 22nd spoke to whether the municipality would consider regulation of short term accommodations at this time or not. They have agreed to hold more public consultations. 
  • Housing challenges remain for many seasonal workers living and working on the Bruce Peninsula. SPARKS Initiative Report and other articles
  • And we are seeing housing challenges for people released from prison who require an address to go to or face more time in jail. 
  • M’Wikwedong Indigenous Housing Support Program has had a lot of people struggling with the stigma of homelessness as well as individuals unsure if they are experiencing housing insecurity.  These are especially difficult times and there is NO shame in a lack of housing stability. Please share out these infographics to create more awareness on what is Indigenous Homelessness

FOOD SUPPORTS

  • We saw a spike in the use of community food programs in December but we have remained steady from January to March 2021. April numbers are not yet calculated. (https://www.foodbrucegrey.com/public-dashboards)  
    • 12 out of 18 Community Meal Programs reported a total of 152,952 meals by the end of March 2021. An average of 380 meals/day.
    • 17 out of 22 Food Banks reported 135,596 kilograms of food distributed to 8,955 households (17,333 people).    
  • Eat Local Grey Bruce is now offering free memberships under their Solidarity Model Fund. For every 40 memberships purchased, Eat Local will donate one free membership to the Solidarity Model Fund. This includes yearly membership renewals. 

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • Disconnection ban: Effective immediately, the OEB is prohibiting electricity distributors from issuing disconnection notices to residential customers for the duration of the provincewide stay-at-home measures that took effect on April 8, 2021. Please visit https://www.oeb.ca for more information. 
  • COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP): this program is currently closed right now but it is anticipated that the Ontario government will provide more funding. 
  • You must apply for CEAP through your utility or USMP (Unit Sub-Metering Program – suite meter). Contact your utility or USMP directly as each may have a unique approach for application in-take. 
  • Residential electricity and gas customers are now eligible for CEAP if they meet the following criteria: 
    • The customer has an account with an electricity distributor, a USMP or a natural gas distributor. Only the customer who is the account holder can submit an application for CEAP. 
    • The customer has overdue amounts owing on the day they apply from one or more electricity or gas bills since March 17, 2020. 
  • Eligible customers may qualify for CEAP credits for the electricity or natural gas charges that are overdue on the date of their application for CEAP, up to a maximum of $750
  • SCAM ALERT:  A home visit is not required to qualify for CEAP. The Ontario Electricity Board (OEB) does not phone consumers offering rebates, nor do we ever schedule home visits.
  • Bag Tag Requirements: while many municipalities/towns/cities waived these under the last lockdown we have only seen an announcement from Georgian Bluffs. 
  • Sobey’s has announced they will reinstate pandemic pay – a “lockdown bonus” for its frontline workers. 
  • Sobey’s will be paying a COVID19 bonus to its front line workers under this lockdown. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 53

Dear Colleagues, 

Our lives changed overnight again, with the announcement of another lockdown. However, for many of us, it feels like we’re exactly where we were over a year ago: still uncertain about what our next few months look like, unsure of what will happen once this is finally over and how long it will take to reverse the sacrifices everyone has had to make this year.

But in a lot of ways things are better. The vaccine rollout is happening. Partners have become competent at operating safely. We’ve learned a lot about how to pivot. And we will persevere like we have all year.

EQUITY ISSUES 

  • Vaccination rollout: the people who most need protection from the coronavirus are often the hardest to reach, with language barriers, poverty, erratic schedules at essential jobs and a mistrust of the government complicating efforts to access services. An Equity Approach to COVID19 is being taken. Just a few stats from the Phase 1 rollout.  
    • Overall, 21% of approximately 150,000 residents (36,028 total doses) are vaccinated with their first dose (as compared to 16% of Ontario population). 
    • All Long-term Care Home and Retirement Homes residents and staff have been offered first and second doses.
    • 77% of eligible First Nation residents living in First Nations communities have been vaccinated with first dose. 28% with the second dose. 
    • Ontario is moving into Phase 2 Vaccine Distribution Plan. Anne Marie Shaw (annemarie.shaw@grey.ca) is our social services sector representative on the Grey Bruce Vaccination Task Force.  A working group of the Task Force has been reaching out to organizations working with vulnerable populations. Don’t hesitate to contact Anne Marie if you are seeing gaps and/or have questions on vaccination clinics for vulnerable populations

COMMUNITY SURVEYS/ADVOCACY

  • All residents of Bruce and Grey Counties are invited to take part in the Community Safety and Well-Being Planning Survey. It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and will examine resident’s experiences since March 2020 and measure the impact of COVID19 on people’s well-being. 
  • CERB repayment amnesty: Campaign 2000 has released a Call-to-Action to sign a parliamentary petition by April 23rd and a call-out for CERB stories  (https://forms.gle/egQh2zQzTL23jFHKA). 

INCOME SUPPORTS

In preparation during the current shut-down, here is a reminder of information about COVID-19 financial supports:

  • Employment Insurance – This is the first place to go if you lose your job. Because of COVID-19, there have been changes to this program. If you are not eligible for Employment Insurance, look at the other options below. 
  • Canada Recovery Benefit – gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
    • If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.
    • If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 19 eligibility periods (38 weeks)between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit – gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). 
    • If you are eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period. 
    • If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 4 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021. You cannot apply for periods that are closed. 
  • Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit – gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. This applies if their school, regular program or facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they are sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19. The CRCB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). 
    • If you are eligible for the CRCB, your household can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period. 
    • If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. Each household may apply up to a total of 38 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021. 
  • Ontario Works – If you are not eligible for EI or any of the three COVID-19 related programs, Ontario Works is your next option. Contact your local Social Assistance Office: 

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Bruce County’s Corporate Services Committee voted to direct $1.75-Million of projected surplus to affordable housing. 
  • Students from the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning have worked closely with the Town of Saugeen Shores and the Municipal Innovation Council (MIC) for the last three months and facilitated a day-long Attainable Housing Research Symposium.
  • Homeless By-Name’s List: 
    • 54 people (34 chronic homeless)
    • 24 with complete sets of information (14 female, 7 male, 7 Indigenous)
    • Of 52 people with birthdates, 15 people were under 30 (28%) 

FOOD SUPPORTS

  • Grey Bruce Public Health have pulled together all the Community Food Program related guidelines in one document: Guidance for Community Food Programs (17 February 2021) and included are the Community Gardens Guidelines (2019). 
  • Please note that the Provincial Outdoor Gathering Limits have changed.to a maximum of 5 socially distanced people.  
  • Chez Gilles: yesterday they served 396 meals. The  April 20th delivery will be postponed to April 27. Chef Gilles will be absent from April 19 to 24. You can register by email: info@chezgillesmeaford.ca or Chefathome1969@gmail.com or by phone at 519.538.9262. You can also contact the office at Christ Church Anglican Meaford 519.538.1330. 
  • Meaford Good Food Box for April is cancelled during this lockdown. They will move all current orders to the next available month we can get back up and running.  Volunteers will work on the list throughout the next week to ensure people are aware.

ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORTS

  • My Dad’s Group will run virtually starting this April. My Dad’s Group provides a supportive environment so men may learn, accept and embrace their roles and responsibilities as fathers in enhancing the well-being of their children. This program is free! For more information, call 519 372 2720.
  • Getting Ahead will be delayed and an in-person group start has been rescheduled on May 7th. Spaces remain for the Owen Sound group and referrals can be made via OW/ODSP workers.  

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 52

Dear Colleagues, 

Today, the Province announced a provincewide emergency brake as a result of an alarming surge  in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province. The provincewide emergency brake will be effective Saturday, April 3, 2021 and the government intends to keep this in place for at least 4 weeks.   

Most community food programs and income/housing supports remain in place with many of them offering curbside services and by appointment in-person services. Please remember to update your services on 211 or to let 211 know that you are remaining the same services. 

EQUITY ISSUES

  • Yesterday was the Transgender Day of Visibility. We stand with Transgender persons, recognizing the struggle for equality they still face. Everyone should feel safe being who they are, but sadly that still isn’t the reality many members of the Transgender community face. With more visibility comes more understanding. 
    • The Gender, Violence and Resource Access Survey found that 50% of trans people have been raped or assaulted by a romantic partner. 
    • Trans people of colour are 6 times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with the police than white cisgender survivors of violence. 
  • Launchpad YTC has created a What’s Your 9 to 5 Podcast featuring M’Wikwedong Building Gender Diverse Communities and Grey Bruce Pride. They interview Karen Houle, who shared about the M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Center and about being Indigenous and Queer. 
  • Accessing vaccination bookings has been challenging for many vulnerable community members due to lack of internet/data plans/email address or ability to navigate the current online/telephone booking system.. 
    • Public Health has been working with community partners to reach targeted vulnerable populations – those in emergency shelters, congregate settings, Indigenous people, CMHA and those in precarious housing situations or street involved – to ensure that they are supported to access vaccination services. 

FOOD SUPPORTS

  • A big THANK YOU to John McLaughlin of Habitat for Humanity for all his delivery and transportation support in the past year!  
    • John has been on the road and delivering pandemic supplies, equipment and food to partners. When Habitat closed their stores doors, John stepped up with the use of their trucks! John has also been delivering surplus food to community food partners and the Meals2Motels program for people sheltered in motels.  It has been an incredible year and John has been an essential part of the machine that has supported food banks, community meal programs and homelessness response programs. 
    • Paul Wagenaar has replaced John for delivery support to community meal programs and the Meals2Motel program. 
  • Despite the snow today, many Community Gardeners are still planning for spring starts. We anticipate that there will be new Public Health regulations around the safe management of community gardens but anticipate they will be open for 2021. 
  • The Meaford Community Gardens have entered in the Gardens for Good Contest with Nature’s Path this year and we are reaching out to our community and friends to support us by sending us a humble vote for our gardens. You can find the garden profile by using the search function (type Meaford in search window) on this website followed by an email validation. 

INCOME/EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

  • Income Tax Filing for Newcomers: because COVID19 has affected how many newcomers manage their taxes, the Canada Revenue Agency has made available different resources to guide immigrants through the process. To learn about filing a tax return, go to https://bit.ly/39cHkHH. To understand the benefits and credits for newcomers, watch this video: https://bit.ly/2NLROGw.   
  • Precarious Employment Report: 4 County Labour Market Planning Board has released a new Report and is seeking your feedback. .Please complete the Report Survey and Partnership Survey
  • Four County Labour Market Planning Board reported in January 2021 the job classification with the highest demand included home support workers, personal care aides, personal home support and more. The government has announced a total of $709,893 in SkillsAdvance program training dollars for Grey Bruce. For more information contact YMCA Owen Sound Grey Bruce Employment Services at 519-371-9222 and press 6.
  • A second Grey Bruce Virtual Job Fair has been announced  In March, more than 1,200 job seekers and 125 employers connected through the Grey Bruce Virtual Job Fair to explore 1,500 local job opportunities. As a response to this high demand, a second Grey Bruce Virtual Job Fair focused on student and seasonal opportunities will take place Wednesday, April 7 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    • The Student and Seasonal Edition is a partnership between YMCA Employment Services, Grey County, Bruce County, VPI Solutions, the Four County Labour Market Planning Board, Georgian College, the City of Owen Sound and the Grey Bruce Local Immigration Partnership.

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • The Meeting Place and the SPARKS Housing Initiative has released an investigative report on long term housing rental housing for seasonal workers. The report digs into the issues and identifies the challenges and possible next steps. 
  • Grey County has recommended the elimination of  the Vacant Unit Rebate Program as one strategy to encourage more development. 
  • Housing and utility support requests remain the highest calls to 211 this month. See the attached latest 211 Bruce Grey Needs Summary. 
  • The By-Name List has 50 people on the list at the end of March 2021. 31 are chronically homeless, 22 full data sets exist and people range from 16-67 years of age. 
  • Safe ‘N Sound‘s transitional housing is full. They will be moving to curbside service for food and reduced the number of people in their space under the lockdown order. 
  • Evictions are still happening. The Landlord-Tenant Board is meeting and Sheriffs are acting on very recent notices issued in March 2021. Steps to Justice has issued a COVID19 Evictions Q&A on the current eviction ban lifted in January 2021. 
  • Suite Meter disconnects are happening. Suite meters are not regulated like other utility services. A disconnection fee can be $237.00. Contact the United Way for advocacy support.  
  • The Y Housing Stability Workers remains in the office servicing people during the lockdown. 
    • The Y Youth in Transition Worker Program (16-17 years old) has been working with partners (BGCFS, OW & Grey County) to address the issues of more timely support funds to youth.  Challenges exist for youth to access trustees, Voluntary Service Youth Agreements (VSYA)  
    • If you have any questions about the program or would like to refer a youth to the program please contact us at 519-371-9230 ext. 233 or e-mail yitw@osgb.ymca.ca.
  • Indigenous youth are also challenged with finding landlords to rent to youth under 25 without a cosigner. M’Wikwedong housing support staff are also seeing a lot of queer youth living at home and seeking althernative housing. 

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • The Province has announced new funding through the Safe Restart Agreement.for SMART, City of Owen Sound and Meaford transit systems. 

ADDICTIONS SUPPORTS

  • Grey Bruce Harm Reduction Program: In 2019, 139,807 needles were given out as part of Public Health’s needle syringe program, available at 16 sites in Grey-Bruce. Nearly 32,000 used needles were returned. in 2020, the number of needles given out dropped slightly – to 136,283 – but the number of used sharps returned increased by about 55% to 49,025. Several initiatives with community partners – Safe ‘N Sound, the United Way of Bruce Grey, the City of Owen Sound and Public Health have supported this program.  
    • Safe ‘n Sound has seen an “influx of people” bringing full sharps containers to the centre. About 8,000 sharps were returned last month alone – nearly 5 times more than in the previous month.
    • Grey Bruce Health Unit, United Way of Bruce Grey and Safe ‘n Sound came together Saturday at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market to share information on the local opioid crisis and available harm reduction services. 50 naloxone kits were distributed and a memorial was held for lives lost. The Health Unit has confirmed a 4th death last week. 

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS

  • CARE Project Grey-Bruce is continually growing and learning how they can best serve our community. They are developing a Volunteer Team that will help when they engage in projects or events, as well as assist with training and educational information sessions that they will be hosting in the future.

NEWCOMERS SUPPORTS

Stay well, Jill