Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 73

Dear Colleagues, 

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and National Orange Shirt Day, is a day to honour survivors, their families and communities and commemorates the history and legacy of residential schools. It also demonstrates a commitment to reconciliation and affirms Every Child Matters.

In July 2021, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-5 to make September 30 a federal statutory holiday in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Call to Action Number 80. 

This day is an important step in the reconciliation process, providing an opportunity to acknowledge our country’s history of systemic racism, recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour their survivors, their families, and communities. 

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) was created to preserve the memory and legacy of Canada’s Residential School system. It was also created to ensure that survivors and their families have access to their own history. 

  • National Student Memorials Register the development of this memorial register, and the print form of the memorial, is the result of work by countless people and the advice, guidance and blessings from Survivors, Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
  • The memorial remembers, honours and acknowledges those children who died while attending a residential school in Canada. This registry represents the first time the names of children that never returned from the schools are commemorated and made available on a national basis in Canada. In recognizing these children, we recognize the pain inflicted on families and communities.
  • Survivor’s Flag: survivors from across Canada helped create their expressions of commemoration, meant for communities and individuals to show their commitment to remembrance and hope for Reconciliation.
  • The National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience.1-866-925-4419
  • Events, education and research are available online. For those with limited access to the internet or a computer, the NCTR can provide support.

All of us can contribute to the truth and reconciliation process by identifying which of the Calls to Action and Calls to Justice could be addressed in our organizations, developing implementation plans, taking actions, and reporting on progress.  

Below are a few events shared at our recent Poverty Task Force meeting. 


  • Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation will hold a variety of community events throughout the week including a youth/sacred fire and family events at the Maadookii Centre and the Community Garden pavilion.  

Owen Sound – in person

  • M’Wikwedong IFC will holda sacred fire, 1-3pm, Sept 30th. All are welcome. 
  • Gitche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden will hold a sacred fire at the garden, 3 -5pm, Sept 30th. All are welcome.  

Grey Bruce – virtual event

  • Bruce Grey Child & Family Services is hosting a children’s book launch for authors Sara Florence Davidson & Robert Davidson, 11 am, Sept 29th.  To register, email: events@bgcfs.ca.

Grey Bruce 

  • Rogers TV will be offering a daily land acknowledgement on their community cable channel 53 in Grey County starting on Sept. 30.

Grey County 

  • Grey County recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (National Orange Shirt Day) by sharing the stories and history of Indigenous people their families, and communities in Grey County through open discussions, exhibits and storytelling; all flags be lowered to half-mast and the Every Child Matters flag be flown annually on September 30.
  • Town of Hanover; https://www.hanover.ca/events/national-day-for-truth-and-reconciliation
  • Hanover Library will be offering programming to recognise the day in various ways, to raise local awareness of Indigenous issues and Residential schools. 

Bruce County

  • Bruce County recognizes  the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (National Orange Shirt Day) by sharing the stories of residential school survivors, their families, and communities. They fly the “Every Child Matters” flag at prominent County locations through September, lowering to half-mast on Thursday, September 30 to acknowledge Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  
  • Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre – https://www.brucecounty.on.ca/news/2021-sep-02/national-day-truth-and-reconciliation-bruce-county
  • Bruce County Library has created a Reading List on Residential Schools. 

Learning opportunities 


Kids are back-to-school and adjusting to another year of the pandemic. Everyone is hopeful that the 4th wave will allow them to continue with in-person classes. 

  • The government has introduced guidelines for a mandatory vaccine passport. 
  • All Grey County and Bruce County libraries continue to support people to print out their proof of vaccination. 

The impact of the pandemic is being analyzed locally and nationally: 

  • YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada report –  Preventing Lockdown Generation – a plan to support Canada’s youth in post-pandemic recovery 
  • Youth are experiencing multiple shocks since the beginning of the pandemic, including the threat of climate change. And marginalized youth experiencing barriers to services and opportunities have been more disadvantaged during the crisis. The International Labour Organization warns that a “lockdown generation” is imminent if urgent measures are not taken to support young people. 
  • The recommendations within the YMCA/YWCA report built upon the Young People Championing Post-Pandemic Futures position paper.  
  • Four County Labour Market Planning Board: The Impact of COVID19 on women  in Huron-Perth Grey Bruce survey is still underway and ends Sept 30th.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/covidf



  • 250,000 community meals have been distributed. A 300% increase over last year. 
  • 80,000 kilograms of fresh produce distributed through foodrescue.ca equal to 4 greyhound buses. 
  • 150,000 kilograms of food distributed by food banks equal to 8 greyhound buses. 
  • 13,000 kilograms of fresh produce shared from community gardens.  
  • Feed Ontario has released its Impact Report 2020-2021 Standing Stronger Together


  • The County of Bruce has released the Bruce County Master Transportation Plan (MTP) Report. The study identified and defined existing constraints as well as opportunities to evaluate solutions in order to provide a safe, efficient, environmentally and economically sustainable, transportation network. 
  • The Master Plan Report (MPR) documents the planning and decision-making process for this study. The MPR is on public record and is available for a 30 day review period starting September 28, 2021, and ending October 29, 2021, in accordance with the requirements of the Municipal Class EA, for public review.

Stay well, Jill

MEDIA RELEASE: RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative launches Landlords Survey

RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative launches first of two surveys on rental housing conditions and concerns in Owen Sound

The RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative is reaching out to housing providers and tenants to get a better picture of rental housing conditions and concerns in Owen Sound. The Collaborative, a voluntary collaboration of agencies, community organizations, landlords, and tenants working to support healthy and dignified housing, is conducting an online survey of landlords and property managers, to be followed by a similar survey with tenants.

The Collaborative hopes that, taken together, the surveys will shed light on the issues and challenges that housing providers and tenants are facing. The results will be publicly shared to support community dialogue on possible actions to improve housing conditions for tenants and better support landlords in maintaining safe and healthy rental units.

The first survey, an online survey of landlords and property managers who own or manage rental housing in Owen Sound, will launch on Wednesday, September 15th and remain open until the end of October. The survey invites landlords and property managers, including private market, non-profit and social housing, to share their views on range of issues.

Questions ask about their challenges with maintaining units, experiences involving tenants, such as concerns about tenant mental health, experiences with enforcement agencies or the Landlord & Tenant Board, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey is anonymous and takes approximately 12-15 minutes to complete. The surveys are being developed by members of the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative, based in part on a City of Montreal tenant survey on rental housing conditions. The surveys are presented as a joint initiative of the Grey Bruce Health Unit, the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, Community Voices, and RentSafe, and are being conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Ottawa.

Since October 2019, participants of the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative have been tackling housing inadequacy through research and finding new ways of working together toward potential solutions. For more information and to access the survey link, visit rentsafe.ca/owen-sound/.

Media Contact

For media inquiries or to request an interview, please contact:
Jill Umbach, povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com, 519-377-9406

To learn more about the surveys or the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative more generally, please contact:

▪ Rosanne Roy, Coordinator, RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative, Rosanne.Roy@ontario.ca
▪ Jill Umbach, Network Coordinator, Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com
▪ Greg Nicol, Fire Prevention Officer, Owen Sound Fire and Emergency Services, gnicol@owensound.ca
▪ Andrew Barton, Public Health Manager, Grey Bruce Health Unit, A.Barton@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca
▪ Erica Phipps, Director, RentSafe | Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Ottawa, ephipps@uottawa.ca

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 71

Dear Colleagues

The province has announced it will require people to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination status to access certain businesses and settings starting September 22, 2021. The province has published a Frequently Asked Questions page.

All Ontarians who registered their vaccines are encouraged to download their vaccine receipt or print their vaccine receipt from the provincial booking portal, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 as proof of their vaccine status until an enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code is available.

  • Ontarians will be required to show their vaccine receipt when entering designated settings along with another piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s licence or health card. 
  • These mandatory requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies, etc.  
  • The province is working to establish a process to prove vaccination status for people with no email, health card or ID, as well as support the implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities.
  • Ontario will support the implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities whether or not they have opted to enter their data into COVax, while maintaining Indigenous data governance, control, access and possession principles.

Many concerns have been raised around ways to ensure people who are transient or homeless will not be discriminated against. 

  • In Quebec, the province says homeless people will be exempt from the requirement to present a vaccination passport to access restaurant dining rooms and patios, as well as food courts in shopping malls, for example. However, it’s not clear how people will prove they are homeless. 
  • Several articles have been written on respecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness and challenges with living on the streets. In BC, they are also raising the issue of access to vaccine passports for people who are homeless and how this will make life more difficult. 

In Grey and Bruce County, agencies have supported people to get vaccinated and are supporting the printing out vaccine receipts. As we move forward with an Ontario Vaccine Passport, please consider how this affects the most vulnerable people that we support in our communities. 


  • The Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health is recommending that local employers develop a workplace vaccination policy to protect their workers and the public from COVID-19. A workplace vaccination policy will identify the organizational expectations with regards to COVID-19 immunization of employees. The Health Unit has posted some recommendations and policy templates: http://ow.ly/bGs350G3anC 
  • The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has shared the Vax Pass Tenets to assist businesses to develop an employee vaccination policy. https://occ.ca/wp-content/uploads/OCC-Vax-Pass-Tenets.pdf 
  • The Region of Peel has announced a new employee vaccination policy.  All Regional employees are to disclose and provide documentation of their COVID-19 vaccination status. Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to complete educational programming about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination. They will also need to provide regular negative COVID tests.


  • Poverty Task Force meeting: on Friday, September 17th we shall be taking a health equity lens to the work we do. The meeting is entitled “Talking health equity: moving from response to recovery: Dr. Rim Zayed, Grey Bruce Health Unit will start off our conversation. We have also invited Federal Candidates to join us. 
  • Temporary Sick Leave: Ontario has announced it will extend a temporary sick leave program for workers at the end of December 2021.Since April 2021, the province provides 3 paid days of sick leave to accommodate self-isolation requirements during the pandemic, reimbursing employers up to $200 per day for what they pay out.
  • Virtual urgent care services: under the pandemic the development of virtual hospital Emergency Rooms is something that might become a permanent tool for our local hospitals. While not in place now, discussions are underway on how to use them effectively at Grey Bruce Health Services. 
  • Virtual UrgentCareOntario.ca: several regional hospitals announced they are partnering in a joint pilot initiative to offer virtual urgent care services to residents of southwestern Ontario. This service offers patients located outside these hospital communities the opportunity to access urgent care without leaving home.


  • YWCA Canada and YMCA Canada have embarked on a new project focused on responding to the impact of the pandemic on youth. Preventing a lockdown generation Report, 2021 outlines challenges faced by youth, ages 18 to 30 years old, in light of the pandemic, and proposes policy responses to ensure youth recover and are resilient in the face of future crises. 


  • YMCA Grey Bruce Emergency shelter: From April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021, the program has assisted more than 800 instances of emergency shelter for a total of 8,029 nights of emergency shelter. (Compared to 2019-2020 fiscal year with 2,731 nights of shelter). 
  • Grey Bruce By Names List has a total of 119 people who are experiencing homelessness. Of those, 56 are chronically homeless. 
  • The Social Services Relief Fund, Phase 3 still has remaining funds until December 2021. Organizations should contact Josh Gibson, Josh.Gibson@grey.ca or Tania Dickson, tdickson@brucecounty.on.ca


  • Feeding Families – Restaurant Relief initiative has now wrapped up. 75 donors gave a total of $52,000 to more than 40 local restaurants who made close to 3,500 meals that were delivered to OSHaRE. OSHaRE shared these out through their own community meal program as well as to other meal programs across Grey Bruce. 
  • Dozens of the meals were also a vital component in assisting with Covid outbreaks at a Hanover rooming house and on Saugeen First Nation when large groups of people were asked to quarantine for at least 2 weeks.  
  • Meals2Motels: 11,366 meals from April 2020 to July 2021 were delivered to people sheltering in motels. 
  • Future of Food: local growers, agri-food processors and food businesses are invited to join area partners on September 22nd, 10am-12noon for a collaborative presentation on the Future of Food.  The presentation is followed by an interactive networking session for participants. This event is designed to provide our local agriculture and food sector with the high-level information they need to plan post-COVID. This is a FREE event, but registration is required. Space is limited. To register, visit www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-future-of-food-registration-164022936017


  • Grey Bruce Newcomers Welcoming Week are hosting a week of celebrations to showcase diverse communities across Grey-Bruce, to foster an inclusive community and welcome newcomers. The first annual “Welcoming Week” will be from September 10 to 19, 2021.  Learn more at: News & Events | Grey Bruce Local Immigration Partnership .

Stay well, Jill 

Equitable Recovery = A Better Normal

Federal Election 2021, Poverty Task Force Media Release

People with insufficient income face impossible choices every single day.  Basic needs are increasingly out of reach for people living on low-income. 

An equitable recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic requires that people with low income, Indigenous people, women, people living with disabilities and other employment barriers have enough income and other resources to recover well.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force calls on all Federal candidates to prioritize Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy – Opportunity for All. Specifically to invest in more programs that

  • lift people out of poverty, in a dignified manner, by ensuring they can afford basic needs—such as safe and affordable housing, healthy food, and health care
  • ensure economic barriers – such as daycare, transportation, racial and gender discrimination – are reduced
  • promote full participation in society and equitable opportunities for all people

The pandemic has increased the number of people in our communities who are struggling to find affordable homes and/or experiencing homelessness. It also demonstrated how those struggling can be more vulnerable to threats in their community.  

Housing is a basic right in Canada. A Housing First approach and investment in wrap around human services is essential to reducing poverty, ending homelessness, preparing people for employment; and creating healthy and safe communities.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force calls on all Federal candidates to prioritize A Place to Call Home – National Housing Strategy. Specifically to invest in more programs to

  • build affordable and supportive housing
  • address critical gaps in homelessness for women and youth
  • develop an Indigenous Housing Strategy for rural Indigenous people who live off-reserve
  • protect existing rental housing

A sustainable recovery must incorporate a climate lens in all policies, especially those addressing poverty and vulnerable people.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force calls on all Federal candidates to consider the priorities of Everyone at the Table – Food Policy for Canada.  Specifically to:

  • ensure people can afford healthy food
  • Invest in Community-based interventions that increase access to food, with the potential to provide social, health, environmental, and economic benefits
  • Enable all Canadians and stakeholders to collaborate on food policy goals including those to reduce food waste
  • support Indigenous food security and sovereignty 




For more information, contact: povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com