Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 93

Dear Colleagues,

While the Hanover downtown core of reopened for vehicles and pedestrians on Tuesday morning, the response to the fire that destroyed the Hanover Inn (known as The Forum) and apartments above the neighbouring stores. The good news is no lives were lost other than pets. Initially it was reported that 80 people were homeless, but the actual number is much lower. Approximately 44 people are still looking for housing support today. The stories shared speak to the traumatizing experience of the fire and the complex needs of many of the residents.

An incredible response was quickly put in place by partners and Grace United Church opened their doors to act as a response centre. By Friday, the Town had called an emergency and opened up the P&H Centre. By Sunday, this was closed due to low numbers needing a physical shelter and the opening up of more rooms at Hanover motels.

Ongoing support is happening. Check the 211 record for the latest updates on community response. People needing assistance should contact 211 or contract direct services in Hanover: 

  • Grey County Ontario Works Hanover (286 10th Street), 519-376-2208
  • YMCA Housing Hanover (Unit 7-425 10th Street), 519-364-3163 
  • CMHA Hanover (Unit 8-425 10th Street), 519-364-7788

ELECTION EDUCATION

In this final week of campaigning for the provincial election on June 2nd, we have a few highlights of upcoming events:

  • The Senior Centre Without Walls/Blue Mountains will be hosting 3 online Meet the Candidate sessions: 
    • May 24th, 11am, Selwyn Hicks, Liberal (past)
    • May 25th, 11am, Karen Gventner, NDP 
    • May 26th,11am, Rick Byers, PCOntari
  • People from BGOS & SimcoeGrey Ridings can meet the candidates by phoning in at: 1- 866-279-1594, pass code 852340#. 
  • May 25th, Meet & Greet event 5:30 – 8pm,  in-person, the Collingwood Public Library.  David Ghobrial, New Blue Party, and Rodney Sacrey of the Ontario Party will present party platforms and there will be a Q & A.
  • Ontario Association of Councils on Aging: election advocacy priority issues are health care, social participation, supportive housing and transportation. 
  • Alliance on Aging and Disability is a new coalition of disability organizations focused on keeping people with disabilities out of long-term care facilities. The Alliance has published a two-page fact sheet with clear recommendations for political parties and election candidates. They have a comparison of election promises from the major political parties here, and Community Living Ontario’s election priorities here. Community Living Ontario 2022 Election Page also provides updates. 
  • May 25th, 7-9pm, All Candidates meeting, Lakeshore United Church, Goderich hosted by Huron Chamber of Commerce, Goderich Ministerial Association and Huron Perth Association of Realtors.
  • May 26th, 7-9pm,  All Candidates meeting, Harmony Centre, Owen Sound, hosted by Climate Action Team Owen Sound (CATOS), and The Sustainability Project focused on Climate Change and the Future of our Region. The event will be streamed on Rogers Cable and will air live on RogersTV Channel 53. It will also air on May 28 at 9 p.m. and on May 30 at 5 p.m. The event will also be streamed live on The Sustainability Project’s Youtube Channel.

MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION SUPPORT

  • Overdose Alert: 3 overdoses in Bruce County were reported over the long weekend – all were non-fatal. Please encourage all people who use drugs to have naloxone on hand and to always use with a sober friend who can administer naloxone and call 911 in case of an overdose.  Naloxone is available at pharmacies and at the Grey Bruce Health Unit Mon-Fri, 8:30 am to 4 pm, no appointment needed.
  • SOS Mobile Outreach will be at Grace United Church, Hanover, May 25th, 12noon-4pm.

HOUSING SUPPORT

  • Bruce County Affordable Housing 101 Toolkit has been released online.
  • Read this this compelling opinion piece from the Maytree Foundation: “We can’t simply build our way out of our housing crisis.”
  • Meaford Chamber of Commerce completed a survey to Meaford businesses on workforce pressures that local businesses are facing. Housing is viewed as the top priority in terms of desired infrastructure. 83% of respondents would like to see Meaford have living accommodations that fill their workers’ needs.

HEALTH EQUITY SUPPORT 

  • International Menstrual Health Day,  May 28th, 10am, Owen Sound Farmers’ Market, awareness walk is being hosted by Its Personal.Period.  Menstrual health is a human right, and we need to raise awareness and open the conversation to normalize menstruation, advance menstrual equity, and end period poverty.

INCOME AND EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 91

2022 Election Education Update # 2

Dear Colleagues, 

Thank you to everyone who has written or spoken with your local candidates to support a Basic Income. Please continue to ask MPP Candidates to take the Basic Income Now pledge. You can check which MPP candidates have pledged to support a Basic Income. 

The concept of a universal basic income in Canada has earned more attention over the past couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). According to a study by the Angus Reid Institute earlier this year, 59% of Canadians support proposals for universal basic income programs for people earning under $30,000. 

  • Elections Ontario is mailing out voter information cards between May 12th and 20th. If you don’t receive a card, you can add or update your information to the list by May23rd and still get a card. You can support people to register here.  
  • Ways to Vote. Cyndy Wheeler, Elections ON Public Relations Officer is available to support agencies to register people. Any questions can be directed to: cyndyswheeler@gmail.com

ELECTION DEBATES/AWARENESS

  • Several communities are facing a very conservative voter base, including those who mistrust government
  • Plain language education/awareness-raising of party platforms and implications for low-income voters is an essential tactic along with engaging low-income residents to vote; challenge: capacity to synthesize all platforms
  • Centring people with lived/living experience – Bruce Grey’s Community Voices previously researched the platforms and brought candidates one-by-one to their table to discuss poverty-related issues with the group; Cornwall, SDG & Akwesasne’s LEAG will craft three of the all-candidate debate questions, co-hosted with the Chamber of Commerce
  • Huron County P2P and Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force are focusing on income security as the best solution to poverty-related issues, such as housing and food. Poverty Task Force shared their Basic Income Postcards.

ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES 

Here are just a few opportunities, please let us know of other opportunities! 

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Riding

  • All Candidates Debate, May 18, 6:30 p.m., Kinplex in Flesherton
  • All Candidates Debate  May 19, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Keady Community Centre
  • 12-17 May 2022 – virtual All Candidate Debates hosted by justrecoverysimcoe.ca/elementor-1455

Information Session for potential municipal election candidates

  • Bruce County Municipal Election Hybrid Information Session: Bruce County Municipalities at a free information session virtually provided by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Find out everything you need to know about running for municipal office.  Thursday, June 23, 2022 – 7-9pm,in-person and virtual meeting.
  • The municipal role in housing: The four papers in this series, produced by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance and the Urban Policy Lab, look at affordable housing, rental housing, social housing, and homelessness. They identify the ideal role of municipalities in housing policy, where municipalities currently face constraints, how other orders of government can support municipalities, and where intergovernmental cooperation is needed. Read the papers

ELECTION RESOURCES 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 90

2022 ONTARIO ELECTION

Dear Colleagues, 

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force is looking to Ontario’s political parties to ensure the fundamentals that enable people and families to achieve financial, physical, and mental health: income security, affordable housing, and equitable access to health and social services.

We all face financial risk at times. An unexpected loss of income can be devastating. We need income solutions to overcome setbacks, stay well, manage transitions and create opportunities.  We know that: 

  • Poverty is not neutral.
  • Poverty is not complex, life is. 
  • Poverty is the single largest determinant of health.

We can decide that a guaranteed income is available to everyone! We can support a living wage that ensures people can afford their basic needs. 

Our Basic Income Working Group has created a series of postcards that we encourage partners to use: 

  • Upload these postcards on your social media (website, Facebook, twitter, etc). 
  • Create a series of blog posts using these postcards.
  • Print out and post at your organization.
  • Consider ways of engagement to discuss income solutions with Provincial Candidates.
  • Attend All Candidates debates for Simcoe-Grey, Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound and Huron-Bruce.
  • Ask your Provincial Candidates – “What income solutions is your party advocating for?”  “Where do you stand on a basic income and/or living wage?”
  • Check to see if your Provincial Candidates have signed the Basic Income Pledge. 

ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES 

Here are just a few opportunities, please let us know of other opportunities! 

Bruce – Grey- Owen Sound Riding

  • 12 May 2022: All Candidates Debate, Harmony Centre, Owen Sound, 7pm
  • 14 May 2022 –  meet the candidate event at Kelso Beach, Owen Sound, 11am-2pm
  • Rogers TV/Politically Speaking are interviewing candidates and you can watch their interviews here.

Huron Bruce Riding

  • 15  May 2022: meet the candidate event at Centennial Park, Walkerton, 11am – 2pm

Simcoe-Grey Riding

ONTARIO 2022 ELECTION TRACKING

  • Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) has released their 2022 Provincial Election strategy: Advancing Ontario’s Prosperity which focuses on provincial-municipal cooperation and accountability on affordable housing, climate change, transportation, mental health and addictions. AMO has created an Ontario Elections Watch Page
  • Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) has created an Ontario Elections Tracker which outlines party platforms as they relate to human services.  
  • Vital Focus on Housing Report: the Community Foundation Grey Bruce along with partners released its report. The report aims to prompt conversation and broaden awareness around issues that our community is facing related to housing. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/Community Update # 89

Dear Colleagues, 

Ajuinata – is this a word that explains where we are at right now? 

Ajuinata is an Inuktitut word rooted in a spirit of perseverance against harsh conditions. In a recent CBC interview, Governor General Mary Simon, explained ajuinata means that “if you’re confronted with adversity or things that are difficult, you keep going, you don’t give up, and you need to make a commitment to continue to make changes.” 

This describes so many community partners in Grey Bruce. We continue to work under pandemic conditions and numbers of people supported are not going down, but rising.  The month of March 2022 saw the highest numbers of people fed at community food programs and the numbers of people are high at drop-in services such as Safe ‘N Sound. 

  • Vital Signs on Housing Report will be released on May 12th, 2022 at the Harmony Centre, Owen Sound. The public is invited to learn about the findings related to housing in Grey and Bruce Counties that address affordability and accessibility, equity, living standards, and wellbeing. Please register in advance.  
  • National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) is May 5, 2022. Events are planned for the day, including a Community Fire at Gitche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden. 
  • National Action Plan on Combating Hate: the federal government  has launched consultations to develop a National Action Plan.  People are encouraged to complete an online questionnaire by May 4, 2022, especially those with lived experience of hate.  
  • SOS Mobile Outreach has expanded to include new sites – Chesley Baptist Church (May 26th, 12-4) and Stonetree. 

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORT

  • foodbrucegrey.com update: 16, 872 community meals in March 2022 represents the single highest number of meals provided since before the pandemic began. 
  • 17,941 lbs of food was diverted to meal programs and food banks; this is the highest monthly total ever by food organizations in Grey Bruce. 
  • 121,168 lbs (54 tons) of food was distributed by food banks since 1 Jan 2022 in Grey Bruce. More than 600 children benefited. 
  • 70,000+ hours were donated by volunteers from Jan 2020 – April 2022. The hours donated equals more than $1,900,000 (based on Volunteer.ca calculations). 
  • Community gardens are preparing for the 2022 growing season. In 2021, they generated, measured and distributed more than 44,000 lbs of produce.  
  • Food Thoughts: is a source for information on Food Banks, Community Meal Programs, Community Gardens, and good food information.

HOUSING SUPPORT 

  • Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF) Phase 5 funding:  The Province has extended funding to assist agencies providing services to our most vulnerable populations to navigate through Covid 19 to the end of Dec 2023. The funds will be used to continue to fund current services and supports that address the negative impacts of Covid 19.  
  • Grey County received $878,000 to  support emergency shelter, stationary and mobile outreach support for mental health, Indigenous housing, community food programs, drop-in centres and rent arrears. 
  • M’Wikwedong Indigenous Housing Support Program: total 86 households being supported;  average 100 households quarterly being served. This quarter numbers were less due to staff capacity. 
    • total 35 youth being supported; is an increase from the last quarter of 16 youth.
    • 25 are single youth (29%), 6 youth-lead families (7%), 25 youth chronically homeless (71%),  16 youth w/severe mental health & addictions “unhouseable” (53%). 
    • Their Indigenous transition units are full.  
  • Youth By Name List: as of 26 Apr 2022
    • 42 active youth (9 under 18), 
    • 32 referred within Grey County; 10 referred within Bruce County
    • 13 self-identified as Indigenous
    • 7 reported sleeping outside most frequently
    • 31 chronically homeless 
    • 4 identified as being trafficked or at risk of being trafficked
  • Acuity Assessment
    • High (7-10): 13 youth
    • Mid (4-6): 7  youth
    • Low (0-4): 18 youth
    • No Assessment Completed: 4 youth
  • By Name List Update:  as of April 21st 2022
    • 173 active individuals/families
    • 50 individuals/families self-identified as Indigenous:
    • 137 individuals/families active and presenting in Grey County at time of referral
    • 32 individuals/families active and presenting in Bruce County at time of referral
    • 5 individuals/families housed in Mar 2022 and 6 as of 21 Apr 2022.
  • Acuity Assessment:
    • High (8-10): 18 Individuals Families
    • Mid (4-7): 62 Individuals/Families
    • Low (0-3): 65 Individuals/Families
    • No Assessment Completed: 28 Individuals/Families
  • Unsheltered By Names List update: as of 26 Apr 2022
    • 50 active households listed as unsheltered/sleeping rough most frequently
    • 7 unsheltered youth (0 under 18)
    • 44 unsheltered and chronically homeless 
    • 14 unsheltered and identified as Indigenous
    • 1 unsheltered in Bruce County
    • 49 unsheltered in Grey County
  • Acuity of those sleeping rough:
    • High (7-10): 18 Individuals Families
    • Mid (4-6): 18 Individuals/Families
    • Low (0-3): 10 Individuals/Families
    • No Assessment Completed: 4 Individuals/Families

INCOME SUPPORT 

  • Winter Disconnect Ban: ends April 30th. Residential customers are protected from electricity and gas service disconnections for non-payment from November 15 to April 30. Contact 211 to access the following support programs in Grey Bruce: 
    • Ontario Electricity Support Program – Reduces electricity bills by providing eligible low-income customers with a monthly on-bill credit generally ranging from $35 to $75, depending on household income and size to reduce bills going forward. 
    • Low-income Energy Assistance Program – This year, eligible low-income customers who are in arrears may receive a one-time grant towards their electricity and gas bills, up to an annual maximum of $1,000 (up to $1,200 for homes that are electrically heated. 
    • Special Rules for Low Income Earners – Distributors must follow special rules when dealing with low-income customers; for example, waiving security deposits and allowing longer payment times under arrears payment. 

YOUTH SUPPORT 

  • Grey Bruce Youth Film Festival: submissions due May 13, 2022 (students in Grades 7-12). Youth are invited to submit short films up to 10 minutes in length to be screened at the Galaxy Cinemas (COVID permitting) in Owen Sound as part of the Grey Bruce Youth Film Festival. For complete rules, please contact Nadia Danyluk at ndanyluk@library.osngupl.ca

Stay well, Jill