Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 19

Dear Colleagues, 

We have passed day 100 and we continue to provide emergency services to our community.  Partners have been gathering statistics and stories and we are beginning to put these into reports. 

Canadian-wide data reports have been compiled on the COVID19 impact: 

  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Conference Board of Canada released the survey results on how COVID-19 has impacted Canadians’ mental health. 84% of people surveyed reported that since the onset of COVID19, their mental health concerns had worsened. The biggest mental health concerns were: family well-being, one’s future, isolation/loneliness and anxiousness/fear. 
  • Stats Can just released Food insecurity before and during the COVID-19 pandemic , 2017/2018 and May 2020 and “Food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, May 2020,” published as part of the series StatCan COVID-19: Data to Insights for a Better Canada 
  • As the pandemic continues to affect employment and the economy, it raises questions about the state of housing markets and the design of our communities, along with calls for action to increase affordability and access. A Globe & Mail/CMHC webcast will bring together experts to outline the impacts of the pandemic on housing, along with potential paths forward. Register today to join the webcast on Tuesday June 30th, 2020 from 1:30pm to 2:30pm EDT.

FOOD AND HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • In the wake of Covid-19, our homeless community has struggled with practicing social isolation practices for their own well being while having to travel to food services in order to eat to sustain their health. 
  • Our housing and food security partners continue to support people housed in motels. The United Way Grey Bruce, OSHaRE, St. Aiden’s Church, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA Housing, Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre, M’Wikwedong Native Friendship Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association, Safe ‘n’ Sound, The Women’s Centre, Traveller’s Motel, Travelodge and Key Motel. 
  • As of June 23, YMCA Housing ensured 78 meals in April, 834 meals in May and 814 meals in June were delivered to people. Contact Rachel Paterson, rachel.paterson@osgb.ymca.ca.
  • For women fleeing violence please contact The Women’s Centre Grey Bruce. 
  • For Indigenous community members experiencing homelessness please contact housing workers at M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre, Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre, YMCA Housing, or Safe ‘N Sound.   
  • Since April 1st, YMCA Housing has provided 1,346 nights of shelter, 142 households (208 individual placements), In June, 46 households were sheltered todate with 25 households currently being sheltered. 
  • In partnership, the YMCA Housing, Owen Sound Police, Bylaw and CMHA have visited new tent encampments in Owen Sound for wellness checks.   
  • Bruce County Housing is taking applications for a new 35 unit build in Kincardine with a planned occupancy in January 2021. 
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit has updated the Guidelines for Community Food Programs and Guidance for Food Delivery (June 16th). 
  • The Grey Bruce Good Food Box  has 19 locations. Most will be closed over the summer but several will be running – Teeswater, Lucknow and Chatsworth.  Lucknow distributed 250 in June and Owen Sound 111. 
  • The Grey Bruce Good Food Box received a grant from Bruce County and they will be purchasing supplies (new bins, baskets, cleaning supplies, etc), upgrading management systems and providing trainingning to all sites on operating under COVID19 with the aim of have more sites open in the September. 

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

 INCOME SUPPORTS

MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS SUPPORTS

  • The Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy members have been focused on COVID19 medical response but anticipate returning to increasing the time devoted to harm reduction programming soon.   Naloxone kits are available from Grey Bruce Public Health. And Public Health has joined the police to do wellness checks on residences where there have been overdoses. 
  • Safe ‘N Sound and the United Way have partnered to collect Sharp containers – 955 needles were collected in the first 4 days of starting up this initiative.  
  • M’Wikwedong IFC housing staff are working with complex cases of people being evicted from motels (temporary housing) due to addictions. This remains a problem in communities. 

The United Way office will be closed next Wednesday to Friday and many staff, including myself, shall be on holiday.  So there will be no Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update next week. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 18

Dear Colleagues, 

Basic Income Canada writes that we are at a critical juncture in Canada where emergency COVID-19 benefits can be wound down or reshaped into an ongoing basic income that enables everyone to be part of a better, new normal.

There are panels, briefs and community voices being presented to the government – most recently to the Senate.  

  • We know that we live in a rich country and we can fund programs that are good for the economy and the community.   
  • We know that Basic Income is not a pancrea for people living in poverty.  Lives are too complex for a single solution. 
  • We know that it does not solve the problem of affordable housing, quality accessible childcare or gender inequality in the workplace. 
  • We know that a Basic Income+ would be a supplement to other programs that serve to meet basic needs. 
  • We know that it will not address sexism, racism etc. across our society but that it will move us toward more equity and equality.
    • We know that 56% of women in Canada work in 5Cs jobs: caring, clerical, catering, cashiering and cleaning. 
    • We know that women are 2 times more likely to lose their job or have their hours reduced under COVID19. 
    • We know that many women are now working triple shifts – homeschooling children, unpaid house work and paid at home work.
  • We know that Basic Income+ needs to be a liveable income and be tied with the cost of living.
  • We know that Basic Income+ could enable women’s economic independence, offer greater choices, more flexibility, childcare affordability, more bargaining power in employment and access to better housing & neighbourhoods, improved health and wellbeing.   (Evelyn Forget, 18 June 2020 – Tamarack webinar: Basic Income & Gender Inequality)

The CERB has given some people a taste of what they could gain if a universal basic income program were implemented. CERB was designed to keep people at home. As we reopen our community and country, we need to design a system that will increase people’s ability to fully participate in our society. 

INCOME SUPPORTS 

  • CERB Extension:   The Federal government announced that it would be extending the CERB by 8 weeks, making the benefit available to eligible applicants for up to 24 weeks.  But it will begin asking applicants to sign an attestation acknowledging the government wants them to work and directing them to the government’s job bank.     
  • CERB Overpayments: People may have applied for and received CERB when they were not eligible or became ineligible after applying. It is important for people to know that the government is asking those who received CERB in error to repay.  
  • The safest ways to repay CERB overpayments are through CRA My Account or by phoning CRA at 1-800-959-8281.  
  • If someone is unsure about whether they were eligible or not, they can visit the following link for clarification and information on repayment. 
  • Scams using CERB overpayments as their hook have become common. If someone thinks they have received a call, mail, or e-mail from a scammer, they should report it to the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre
  • United Way Financial Literacy Program: can assist families with budgeting, accessing additional income sources if they are not already utilizing them, system navigation along with a sensible and realistic approach to household finances. Will be focused on providing advice for households that have OW, ODSP and CERB interactions as we understand them. Contact Caroline Araujo Abbotts – Financial Literacy Program Coordinator, via advice@unitedwaybg.com or call 519-376-1560, 519-378-4773 (cell).  
  • A COVID-19 aid bill proposed to offer a one-time, tax-free payment of up to $600 for Canadians who have disabilities was defeated. Opposition parties raised concerns about a number of aspects of the bill, including proposed penalties for fraudulently claiming the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.  
  • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) the government will start accepting new applications for the starting Friday. The government has expanded program eligibility to include farmers.

HOUSING SUPPORTS 

  • CEAP (Covid-19 Energy Assistance Program)Available to consumers who have fallen behind by at least two billing cycles, but whose accounts were in good standing when the provincial emergency was declared. 
    • Available for those unemployed on the date they apply for funding, and have received Employment Insurance or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit since March 17, 2020; 
    • Provide electricity customers with up to $230 in support if they primarily use electricity for heating, or if they use energy-intensive medical devices, and up to $115 otherwise; 
    • Provide natural gas customers with up to $160 if they reside in Northern Ontario, and up to $80 if they reside elsewhere;
  • Wood, Furnace Oil and Propane Support: the United Way isstill processing applications for these sources of heat.  Sewer and Water Arrears: the United Way is working with only households with a disconnection order and in the communities of Owen Sound, Meaford and Saugeen Shores.  The intakes are done by 211 and then processed by Karen Baxter, assist@unitedwaybg.com or 519-376-1560.  Karen can also provide support and knowledge on the rules and regulations. 
  • Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP): all intakes and processing of applications have been halted under the direction of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).  Those in arrears can apply as soon as the disconnection ban is lifted. 
    • The grant is still $500 and they need to pay what is owing on top of that. People are encouraged to contact the utilities they have outstanding balances with and try to negotiate payment arrangements at this time. 
  • AffordAbility Fund Trust:  assists people who do not qualify for other low-income energy programs. Applicants may be eligible for free energy upgrades that can lower overall home energy use and electricity bills.  Applicants can call 855-494-3863 or email Kim Williams (aft@unitedwaybg.com), Community Activator. 
  • The Housing Action Group: meets weekly to respond to homelessness and COVID19 housing challenges. The group is concerned about recent overdoses and analyzing unsafe conditions or situations exacerbated under COVID19. While Housing workers are seeing more complex cases involving addictions with some deaths there remains a low number of calls to 911/EMS. Trust factors and structural stigma remain factors. Potential solutions are to increase peer-support workers and increase outreach services.   
  • The Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy joined this week’s call. The Opioid Working Group has reconvened and action is being taken to address issues with a harm reduction approach. Dr. Ara has released a statement on recent concerns. 
    • People who use drugs and their friends and family are also encouraged to access naloxone and opioid overdose training. Naloxone works to temporarily reverse an opioid overdose caused by drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone or morphine. 
    • A free Naloxone kit is available at the Grey Bruce Health Unit, no appointment necessary, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. It is also available from some local pharmacies. Find out more at www.ontario.ca/Overdose 
  • Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP): The Province announced that it would be investing $1 million in funding to support families experiencing food insecurity by adapting the Student Nutrition Program to continue to provide school-age children with access to healthy meals and snacks during the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • The OSNP program in Grey Bruce has distributed grocery gift cards and food boxes to families with Federal funding in partnership with the United Way, Bruce Grey Child & Family Services and so many other community partners. 
  • The Salvation Army Chesley Food Bank: starting on July 8th they will be serving the community in a new location at the Chesley Community Church (307 1st Avenue), Wednesday mornings from 9 am to noon.  Appointments can be made by calling 519-364-3450.  Jennifer Sachs is available as the Family Services Worker at 519-364-3450 or jennifer_sachs@can.salvationarmy.org.   
  • The Food Security Action Group meets bi-weekly to discuss logistics, gaps and barriers in emergency food response. Recent challenges identified include the transportation of meals by  frozen meal programs. These programs were operating pre-COVID19 and have significantly scaled up during the pandemic.  But many health staff in South Bruce and South East Grey who have been delivering meals to homes now have caseloads that are too high and the service is evolving, so they cannot continue to make deliveries in July.  Solutions may include establishing Regional Distribution Hubs, staff hiring and new volunteer recruitment. 
  • De-stigmatizing food insecurity: COVID19 has highlighted the need to reach out to isolated seniors. Organizations are seeing that seniors are hesitant to receive charity food. The Tara & Area Food Bank has been working with Bruce County Housing to get the message out that the food banks are community resources that everyone in the community has contributed to ensure their neighbours are taken care of. 
  • Community Meal Programs: continue to see increasing numbers. 
    • OSHaRE: 14,474 meals (JanApril 2020) plus 7,029 meals in May were served for a total of 21,503 meals. Continuing to share extras out with other community meal programs. 
    • YUM Program: South East Grey CHC distributes 100 meals/week supplied by St. Aidan’s Community Meal Program. 
    • St. Aidan’s Community Meal Program: provided 700 meals in May and from June 1-12th has provided 275 meals. 
    • Chesley Baptist Church: provides 90 hot meals/week. 

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

  • connect2JOBS.ca has been launched by Four County Labour Market Planning Board. 
  • WSIB has extended First Aid Training Certification to Sept 30th, 2020.  WSIB will continue to monitor and adjust this date, if necessary. 
  • To help keep knowledge of First Aid in the workplace at a critical time, the WSIB is endorsing certification and recertification for the knowledge component of the training through a Blended Learning First Aid course.  Individuals would complete the online portion and then have up to 120 days to complete the one day in class portion.  
  • Contact Kathy Murphy Ermel, St. John Ambulance, Grey Bruce Huron Branch by email (kathy.ermel@sja.ca) or leave a message at 519-364-7004 ext. 2 if you wish to arrange training and verify costs. 
  • Enabling Accessibility Fund: for projects that improve the accessibility of persons with disabilities in facilities where they work are a priority with a grant of up to $100,000. To receive funding, your organization must be a: not-for-profit organization; business; small municipality; Indigenous organization (including band councils, tribal councils and self-government entities); territorial government. Applications accepted until July 13, 2020.   

CHILDREN YOUTH SUPPORTS 

  • The Province announced up to $46 million in new funding over 5 years to increase community-based and Indigenous-specific supports for child and youth victims of sex trafficking. The deadline for applications to the Community Supports Fund and the Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund is July 30, 2020 at 5 p.m.     
  • The Province has announced an additional $10 million for school boards to boost mental health services for students to help them cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.   The additional $10 million is on top of a previously announced $25 million used to hire about 180 mental health workers for Ontario high schools.
  • The Province also announced $15 million for boards to buy about 35,000 computers in total across all school boards.  And $7.6 million for a Summer 2020 Transition Programs for Students with Special Education Needs and Mental Health Concerns.
  • Camp in a Box or Camp Kits: virtual summer camps are being designed by various organizations across Grey Bruce. One such example is a partnership with  The Municipality of Meaford has partnered with The Imagination Studio to bring two Camp in a Box activities: Magic and Science Kit & Camp, and POM POM Sculpture Kit & Camp.      

GOVERNANCE SUPPORTS

  • The Province is providing employers with a new general workplace guide to help them develop a safety plan to protect workers, customers and clients through reopening. The guide explains what employers should think about, and provides examples of controls as well as a template for creating a plan. 
  • Volunteer Canada Resources on COVID-19 and Volunteering: Board Governance– Information and resources for boards of non-profit organizations to help navigate governance issues during COVID-19, including virtual annual general meetings and legislative considerations. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 17

Dear Colleagues, 

Around various tables we have been having open conversations about how communities are beginning to plan for recovery. 

Discussing that the “old normal” was not meeting the basic needs of so many individuals and families we work with, therefore the ‘new normal’ needs to not only function under ongoing pandemic conditions but it needs to address pre-COVID19 issues.   

On a recent Mid-Ontario Rural Convenor Call for Poverty Roundtables (hosted by Tamarack), we had an open conversation about how rural Ontario communities are beginning to plan for recovery and seek to build a “new normal”. 5 highlights from our discussion were:

  • Everyone is doing things a bit differently, but we are all partnering in community recovery. Examples include: researching gaps and exploring our strengths for long-term planning; and supporting food security, housing, and social service operations in recovery. 
  • The collaborative nature of rural communities has been a real strength in the COVID-19 response, as people have been working in this way for longer. 
  • Some food banks are adapting and expanding to larger community spaces and emergency services. How do we sustain these operations once COVID19 government funding to individuals and organizations runs out and volunteer drivers go back to work? 
  • How do we reallocate new pop-up efforts in the food system so they strengthen the current supports, without discouraging them from what they had wanted to do? 
  • The major issues we will need to tackle are likely still the same things – they pre-dated and will continue to exist beyond COVID-19 (ex. transportation, housing and technology access).

There are many resources to assist us in re-opening and information on the recovery phase from a health and economic perspective. 

  • Reopening Grey Bruce and Ontario: effective Friday, June 12, the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province.
  • Grey Bruce has moved to Re-opening Stage 2 
    • This allows the reopening of places of worship and a list of businesses, including restaurants (outdoor patios), hair salons and malls. 
    • It also allows child care centres and day camps to open. Both play an integral role in parents’ ability to return to the workforce. Strict public health regulations are being put in place for each service provider to meet the standards of care required. It will take time to ramp up logistics and safety protocols. In addition, we know that many daycare centres and day camps run out of public schools. And schools are currently closed. 
  • The COVID-19 section of the Grey Bruce Public Health website has recently beenupdated. It includes general COVID-19 information, inquiries, and resourcesinformation for health care providers and information on the recovery phase. 
  • Greater community engagement still requires us to maintain physical distancing during day-to-day activities, including with those in group gatherings. The Grey Bruce Health Unit reminds everyone that wearing a face covering is critical to decreasing the risk of COVID-19 spread when personal distancing is not possible.   
  • Dr. Ian Arra, strongly recommends: 
    • Retail employees wear cloth masks or other non-medical face coverings. 
    • Patrons at retail settings wear cloth masks or other non-medical face coverings  
  • The Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee wants to hear directly from people and organizations from all regions and sectors to help inform the next steps in Ontario’s Action Plan in response to COVID-19. You can provide your input here.     

FOOD SUPPORTS 

  • Food Bank Usage in Grey Bruce increased in March/April and has been steady or slight decline in May/June. A recent Food Banks Canada Survey of 30-40 Food Bankswith lower numbers attributed this to: 1) people didn’t realize the local food bank was open, 2) anxiety about coming out and felt unsafe to visit, and 3) income supplements from the government has reduced the need. 
  • Community meal programs are on the increase. OSHaRE saw roughly 1,000 additional meals distributed in May. 
  • Some 600+ meals from OSHaRE were delivered to motels with people housed by YMCA housing. 
  • Bulk purchases: 12,000 rolls of toilet paper were distributed to food banks/community food meal programs by the United Way as well as gloves, sanitizer, plastic bags and containers. Remaining stock will be distributed, as needed. The United Way will no longer do bulk purchases and distribution but instead will connect smaller organizations with wholesale distributors since the chain of procurement has been established. 
  • More Good Food Boxes opened in May/June i.e. Dundalk and Kincardine. Port Elgin is expected to re-open in September. We continue to see an increase in the number of boxes ordered. Owen Sound increased from 90 to 130 boxes in May. However, most programs don’t operate in July/August. 

OUTREACH CAMPAIGNS

  • #heretohelpGB:  211 data analyst conducted a call comparison between May 2019 and May 2020, for caller needs related to the topic areas of this campaign. Of the 374 calls to 211 from Bruce Grey residents in May 2020, 18% were related to needs identified in the campaign – this was a 4% increase from May 2019.
  • WES for Youth online: during the month of May, 111 new Ontario youth (ages 13-24) were registered; average age of 17, offered support regarding isolation, anxiousness and post secondary unknowns. Scheduled over 147 hours of counseling serving The Shoreline, Trenton and Ingersol. 

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

  • Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF): accepting funding applications every Thursday by 4pm. The fund provides financial support to non-profits/charities adapting their frontline services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including to cover staffing or resource needs, purchase assistance and more. Funding will be for programming starting in July 2020 to March 2021. Funding will be issued on an ongoing basis through July 2020, as funds permit. First Nation and Indigenous communities are eligible to apply. Visit Community Foundation Grey Bruce and United Way of Bruce Grey or contact Stuart Reid, Executive Director CFGB, 519-371-7203 and Francesca Dobbyn, Executive Director UWBG, 519-376-1560
  • Grey County and Bruce County Housing Emergency Fund
  • Applications for Stage 2 of the Local Food Infrastructure Fund (LFIF) – a five-year, $50 million initiative ending March 31, 2024. The program is part of the Government of Canada’s Food Policy which is Canada’s roadmap for a healthier and more sustainable food system in Canada. The LFIF objective is to strengthen food systems and to facilitate access to safe and nutritious food for at-risk populations.  

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • YMCA Emergency Housing: As we move into warmer temperatures we are seeing more movement of people into the area and new tent encampments. YMCA Housing is mapping encampments and working in partnership with Safe ‘N Sound and the police to support outreach activities.  
  • With some transportation services not operating i.e. Greyhound, housing partners are challenged with finding affordable transportation for people where housing is available or when people choose to return to a different community.  
  • While the YMCA Housing reports numbers are lower. April 634 nights compared to 343 nights in May. However, people remaining in shelter are staying longer and have much higher, complex needs. Both M’Wikwedong IFC and YMCA Housing continue to see a significant number of Indigenous people. 
  • Safe ‘N Sound and other housing partners continue to see an increase in drug use with a reported 250% increase in the use of needles in March/April compared to last year. Safe ‘N Sound distributed 49 naloxone kits, 37 crack kits, 106 meth kits and 900 needles in May. 
  • Safe ‘N Sound is providing space for COVID19 testing by Public Health amongst its homeless/drop-in population as well as anyone who wants to access the service this week.   
  • The Women’s Centre is working with strict quarantine protocols and newcomers must be quarantined upon entry. Some women and families are staying in hotels before entering the quarantine unit in the shelter before moving into another room. The shelter is looking at temporary alternative cooking arrangements so that more women/families can access cooking facilities.   

INCOME SUPPORTS 

  • CERB Payments: Over 8 million Canadians claimed the benefit, according to Statistics Canada, despite data showing that only 5.5 million were jobless or had their hours slashed in the workplace. 
  • The Act Respecting Additional COVID-19 Measures would end payments to those who “fail to return to work when it is reasonable to do so and the employer makes a request for their return; fail to resume self-employment when it is reasonable to do so; or decline a reasonable job offer when they are able to work.”
  • Penalties could range from six months jail time, to fines of $5,000 and additional charges of “up to three times the amount claimed by fraud,” for a potential maximum of $24,000.
  • Concerns have been raised about ODSP clients who have received CERB and might have to make repayments. ODSP has received instructions that clients must pay back the full amount to CRA despite the fact that a portion has been clawbacked by ODSP at the time of payment. This leaves people on ODSP with a large debt to repay. Questions are being raised on a better way of repayments that don’t negatively impact ODSP clients. 
  • South Ontario Experience of Basic Income: McMaster University and the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction released a new report in March 2020 and today participants of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot were speaking to the members of the Senate.  
  • Basic Income & Gender Equity webinar: Gender equality is still far from being realized. In terms of economic parity, the World Economic Forum ranked women and girls in Canada 30 out of 153 countries this year. Now, COVID-19 is amplifying the fact that women are over-represented in precarious and low-wage work, are still the family’s unpaid primary caregivers, and are susceptible to domestic violence. Tamarack Institute and Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction are presenting Learn more and register here  onJune 18, 12-1pm. 
  • Tamarack Institute has also a Basic Income Resource Library.  

NEWCOMER SUPPORTS

  • The Rural Pathways project (United Way of Bruce Grey and Welcoming Communities Grey Bruce) is currently looking for visible minority newcomer and immigrant women to test some online skill-building workshops that address employment barriers. 
  • An online survey / pre-registration is being conducted in June to find out the best days and times for the women to participate. Please share this link with the women who you think may be interested in testing the workshops:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/skill-building-workshops-survey.
  • The online skill-building workshops be testing are:
  1. Zoom Skills: How to use Zoom for learning, working and connecting with friends and families (one 75-minute session)
  2. Overcoming Social Barriers to Employment:  Learn how to identify and address cultural barriers and discrimination, and your rights in Canadian workplaces (one 75-minute session)
  3. Overcoming Language Barriers:  Learn how to overcome language barriers and access English learning resources (one 75-minute session)
  4. Get Your Qualifications and Experience Recognized: Learn how to have your overseas education, skills and work experiences recognized in Canada (one 75-minute session)
  5. in-depth skill-building workshop on Language Barriers (four 75-minute sessions over four consecutive weeks)
  • If any women have language barriers, Rural Pathways may be able to connect them with volunteer translators to assist them in completing the survey. Our volunteer translators are also available to assist newcomers and immigrants in working with service providers.   

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 16

Dear Colleagues, 

Inclusion, equality, and equity are fundamental to the work we do at the Poverty Task Force. We believe that everyone deserves to live free of systematic oppression or racialized violence. 

It’s not enough to “not be racist”, we must be actively anti-racist. The Canadian Human Rights Commission released  Anti-Black racism in Canada: time to face the truth stating that anti-Black racism is pervasive in Canada. In fact, the belief that there is little to no racism in Canada is in itself a barrier to addressing it. 

We believe that acknowledging this is a crucial part of standing in solidarity with our Black, Indigneous and minority colleagues, partners, members, and community.   

Together we can keep learning, keep listening, and stand up to all forms of racial injustice.  

On our COVID19 Resource Page we have expanded our list of Inclusion and Equity resources to include: 

  • Inclusive Community Engagement: in a time of physical distancing, Capire, May 2020
  • Our Grey Bruce Health Equity Tool takes a system perspective and was developed collaboratively with system leaders, service providers and community stakeholders across sectors and agencies within Grey Bruce
  • Our Moving Forward on Health Equity Working Group has developed this tool and videos for organizations striving for equity and to make changes to systems within their control.  
  • Most recently the Chatham-Kent Public Health has requested the use of our Health Equity Tool for post-COVID19 planning. The Moving Forward on Health Equity working group shall be coming together in June to discuss the role of this tool under COVID19 for organizations in Grey Bruce. 
  • M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre’s June newsletter includes an introduction to staff and services in their new space as well descriptions of ongoing programs under COVID19. 
  • The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and its final report have brought the issues of violence against First Nation, Métis, and Inuit women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people to the forefront, and together we must continue the momentum for change.  
  • The report’s Calls for Justice requires that we work in partnership with Indigenous leaders, justice partners, community groups, service providers and others to enhance violence prevention and access to services. 
  • The Federal Government announced new funding for Indigenous communities, including $285.1 million for the COVID-19 public health response, $270 million to supplement the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program, and $44.8 million to build shelters for Indigenous women and girls experiencing violence, along with ongoing operating funding.   
  • The Rural Pathways for Newcomer Women in Grey Bruce project has created an online COVID 19 Resources & Supports for Newcomers &  Immigrants and another one for employers of newcomers, Covid-19 Resources for Employers Who Employ Newcomers in Bruce and Grey Counties 
  • Since March, the Rural Pathways project has been recruiting volunteer translators to help newcomers with language barriers to access Covid-19 resources. Presently, the translators can provide these languages: Hindi, Gujarati, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Nepali. Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Dutch, Farsi, Cantonese and Mandarin. To connect with a translator, contact newcomer@unitedwaybg.com 
  • In July and August, the Rural Pathways project will be offering a series of free online skill-building workshops to visible minority newcomer women in the region. These workshops address several employment and pre-employment barriers: bias, discrimination and cultural barriers, language barriers, and the lack of Canadian education, skills and work experience. For more information contact newcomer@unitedwaybg.com 
  • The YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce is now providing settlement and language services to eligible newcomers and immigrants in the region. They will offer a variety of workshops, as well as LINC English classes. Settlement Services include: completing forms, applications and other documents, navigating local systems such as health care and public school, recreation services, education, income assistance, taxes and more, sourcing programs and services within the community, referrals to programs and services including: counselling, employment services, language assessments, children and youth services, legal issues and refugee other specialized services, communicating with employers, landlords, social and government services, legal services and more, Canadian life and culture, assistance and referral for licensing and accreditation. Contact settlement@osgb.ymca.ca or 519-379-5535.

As the province launches into the recovery phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, a number of local plans are being put into place. This will include a gradual, staged approach to reopening businesses, services and public spaces. 

  • The Recovery Phase section of Grey Bruce Health Unit COVID19 page will be updated as details emerge from the province and as local information becomes available. A new Infographic and videos have been developed to assist in understanding. 

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS

  • The United Way of Bruce Grey and Community Foundation Grey Bruce continue to accept applications for funding through the Emergency Community Support Fund.  Applications will be due every Thursday at 4 pm and reviewed weekly. $500,000 in funds are available for charities and nonprofits in Grey Bruce for programming from July 2020 to March 2021. 

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • Seniors Supplement: The Federal government announced today that seniors can expect in the week of July 5th, to receive a tax-free, one-time payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the OAS and an additional $200 for those eligible for the GIS. 
  • In April, the federal government spent $1.3 billion to provide seniors with a one-time special payment through the goods and services tax credit, worth an average of $375 for each single senior and $510 for couples.

YOUTH SUPPORTS

  • The Ontario government announced the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity, a new advisory group that will provide advice on how young people can overcome social and economic barriers and achieve success. The council will also advise government on long-term actions that can be taken to support youth during the COVID-19 outbreak.  
  • A recent Sun Times interview with the Poverty Task Force and community partners highlighted child/youth programming support. 
    • The YMCA Youth & Justice program continues to provide free Social Distancing workshops – Mon, Wed and Fri at 1pm via Zoom. Call/text: 519-373-1016 or email justice@osgb.ymca.ca to register. 
    • The YMCA is offering virtual workshops and launched YMCA at Home providing free content for mental health and wellbeing, family and children’s activities, and fitness programming. 
    • The Youth Job Connection program started this week for people between the ages of 15 and 29. VPI Inc and the YMCA run the program which provides pre-placement training, job opportunities and mentorship for teens and young adults. 
    • Keystone Child, Youth and Family Services teamed up with the Scenic City Order of Good Cheer, The Rocking Horse, and Martin School Transit – who donated $15,000 to kickstart the project – to distribute toys to isolated children.The program has now provided toys to more than 550 children throughout Grey and Bruce counties. Members of the Scenic City Order of Good Cheer have travelled more than 6,000-kilometres delivering the toys to families in need.
    • Many libraries are offering virtual activities for children and youth. The Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library is providing daily programs such as Toddler Story Time, and the Tea & Title book club through their Facebook page.  Read more of their activities in their latest newsletter. 
  • But we also raised the challenge many families have with accessing free activities that are closed during the hot temperatures  – playgrounds, splash pads, public pools and family-friendly cooling stations. 
  • The challenge for parents to return to work without childcare has been raised to the Federal government.     

Stay well, Jill