Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 51

Dear Colleagues, 

Our community has come together, to keep it together under this Pandemic. One of the heartbreaking crises continuing to hit our community hard has been the increase of overdoses in the City of Owen Sound and other locations.  This Saturday, March 27th from 9am to 12:30pm the United Way, Safe ‘N Sound and Grey Bruce Public Health will be at the Owen Sound Farmer’s Market to create more awareness and to remember those we have lost. The public is invited to take a carnation, walk the block around the 8th and 9th Street bridges and then drop the flower into the river, to symbolize the loss of those who have died, gone permanently from our community. 

PLANNING AND SYSTEM CHANGE

  • We still have spaces for partners to join the The End of Poverty Summit – a nationwide gathering of poverty reduction organizations/cities hosted by Tamarack from 11am May 5th to 5pm May 6th, 2021. Learn more about the guest speakers and workshops at: https://events.tamarackcommunity.ca/the-end-of-poverty.  Contact Jill Umbach, povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com, if you are interested in attending this virtual summit. 
  • Plan the Bruce: Bruce County is looking for input as it begins work on a new Official Plan to guide development and growth for the next 25 years. There are currently input surveys open for Housing and Agriculture. You can also contact planthebruce@brucecounty.on.ca to ask about any project and/or provide input. 
  • The Bruce Grey Ontario Health Team has submitted its full application to the Ministry of Health and is now seeking community council advisors. http://ow.ly/HwkF50E3jJ8 

The Province has released Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. The 2021 Budget is the next phase of Ontario’s response to COVID-19 and is the second Budget the government has delivered during the pandemic. 

  • The 2021 Budget builds on the government’s record investments in response to the global pandemic, bringing total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people’s health and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.
  • Some HEALTH SUPPORTS include: 
    • A $175 million initiative will provide mental health and addiction supports including mobile clinics for rural communities. 
    • $2.1 million to support victims of crime and domestic abuse survivors. 
    • $1.6 million to address systemic racism.
    • $1 billion over 2 years for vaccine rollout, including $135 million already spent
    • Reiterates plans for hundreds of millions of dollars to build new long-term care beds and improve ventilation. 
    • $4.9 billion over 4 years for hiring 27,000 nurses and PSWs
    • Budget made no promise to retain the planned increase for front-line long-term care workers past June 2021; under review.  
    • Learn more about Ontario’s plan to protect people’s health.  
  • Some INCOME/EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS include: 
    • Extending existing grant program, offering $10,000 to $20,000 to about 120,000 affected businesses, for an additional $1.7 billion. 
    • An additional $400 million for tourism industry
    • New Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit for 2021. It would provide up to $2,000 per recipient for 50% of eligible expenses, for a total of an estimated $260 million in support to about 230,000 people in 2021.  
    • 3rd round of Ontario COVID19 Child Benefit with payments being doubled to $400 for children up to Grade 12 and $500 for children and youth under 21 who have special needs. 
    • Proposed 20% top up of CARE tax credit for childcare expenses to help families earning under $150,000. Will cost $75 million and will increase support from $1,250 to $1,500 on average/family
    • Task force to address women’s economic barriers will be created. 
    • $2.8 billion for province-wide reliable broadband services in all regions by 2025, part of an overall $4 billion investment. 
    • Learn more about Ontario’s plan to protect our economy.

INCOME/EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS 

  • The Federal government has extended COVID19 Benefits to support workers for longer. 
  • Getting Ahead: April 20th is first Getting Ahead for 2021 to be held in Owen Sound. It will be in-person with all the Public Health safety protocols. Individuals on Ontario Works (OW) or ODSP are eligible. People interested should contact their OW or ODSP worker for more info or to register.
  • Ontario Works shall move to a central intake through the Province on April 26th, 2021. A Vision for Social Assistance has been released by the government.

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • For people who are without transportation to access COVID19 vaccination clinics they can call the Public Health Unit Helpline at 519-376-9420, ext 3000 or call 211 and ask about transportation services.
    • MOVIN’GB will arrange transportation for individuals to COVID-19 vaccination clinics and waive the 48 hour requirement to schedule a ride (as long as resources are available to supply ride) Call 519-370-0558 or Intake: 519-372-2091. Email schedulers@hcssgreybruce.com 
  • GTR will start to take cash payment on March 29th, 2021. All riders are required to book their seat in advance, riders wishing to pay by Cash must book their ride over the phone at226-910-1001. Fares range from $5.00 to $3.00 (Adults with student/senior rates and children under 5 ride for free. 
  • GTR will be piloting a new Sauble Beach route from Friday to Monday starting in May to September for the tourism season. This will give an opportunity for employees and tourists to access affordable rides. 

HOUSING SUPPORT 

  • Bruce County is experiencing well-recognized and complex housing opportunities and challenges, influencing supply and demand of housing in the region. Give your input and help plan for the supply and mix of homes in Bruce County.  Good planning decisions now can have a positive impact on housing diversity and availability over the next 25 years. There is an Homes: A Guide to Giving Feedback to assist in providing input. 
  • YMCA Housing Stability Workers have been picking up Motel kits from United Way of Bruce Grey. These kits are given to people being provided shelter while they seek out permanent housing. With the rising cost of housing in our area we continue to see high numbers of people seeking assistance. 
  • Motels will be increasing their rates soon for the tourist season and housing services remain busy with trying to find permanent housing solutions. 
  • The Province has announced its new strategy to combat homelessness. The Grey Bruce Homeless Response Table currently has between 45-50 people on the By-Name list with 3 people recently housed. A point-in-time homeless enumeration will be carried out and completed by December 2021. 
  • North Bruce Peninsula has approved the formation of a Municipal Housing Task Force which starts in May 2021. 
  • The Women’s Centre of Bruce Grey will launch its Anti-HumanTrafficking Program on April 5th. Named, “Our Place”, the program is aimed at supporting youth victims and survivors of human trafficking in our community. The program will partner with community agencies to provide wrap-around victim support and will include an educational component for school-aged children that focuses on the signs of human trafficking to youth under 16 years of age.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 50

Dear Colleagues,

Precarious employment is one important variable influencing the extent to which individuals are able to withstand the economic fluctuations caused by COVID-19. The Four County Labour Market Planning Board has been delving deeper into precarious employment with a series of COVID-19 Impact Surveys

  • National and provincial research both show that those who were more vulnerable to economic changes and labour market instability before COVID-19 have experienced greater hardships due to the pandemic. They are more likely to be currently unemployed or working in jobs with less stability. They are also more likely to be working in sectors where work cannot be performed remotely, thereby creating stress due to the often additional risk of exposure, as well as needed access to childcare for parents required to work outside the home during this pandemic. The local survey data aligns with these overall findings.
  • Compared to those who are not precariously employed, individuals who are currently precariously employed are more likely to be: younger, have lower educational attainment and approximately 1 in 4 respondents has at least one dependent child living at home. 
  • The Spring 2020 survey analyzes the results in order to understand the initial impact COVID-19 had on our local workforce. 
    • Locally, the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula Economic Region saw unemployment move from 5.9% in March to 9.3% in May 2020, with a corresponding decrease in the number of people employed in the region. In order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the local workforce, the Four County Labour Market Planning Board conducted an anonymous and confidential survey  between April and June 2020. 
    • When asked about the extent to which respondents felt confident in their ability to continue to work or to find work after the COVID-19 crisis, 22% responded that they strongly disagreed or somewhat disagreed with this statement. 
    • Respondents were also asked about the extent to which COVID-19 was impacting key household considerations. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the following percentage of respondents are somewhat or significantly more worried about their ability to pay bills, have enough food and to pay rent/mortgage.
  • The Fall 2020 surveyreviews the results when there were signs of economic recovery in order to understand the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. 
    • The survey reveals that approximately 25% of respondents are concerned about their ability to continue working or find new work after the pandemic.
    • This finding may provide opportunities for local training programs, employment counsellors and other supportive services to assist those whose employment status may be more uncertain than it was before COVID-19.
    • Similarly, the 33% of respondents who reported that COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on their ability to pay for basic necessities could be targeted for additional support and services in our local communities. 

The Planning Board is working on an ongoing project exploring the impact of different scenarios that may emerge in the next 12-24 months, and how they will impact both the workforce and employers in our region. For more information about the COVID-19 Scenario-Based Planning project, please see www.planningboard.ca or contact Tingting Zhang tingting@planningboard.ca

  • The Ontario government has announced it is expanding the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to include nearly 600 micro-credential programs. Through this initiative, the province is ensuring loans and grants will be available to more learners looking to rapidly upskill and reskill for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow. 

The Community Foundation Grey Bruce has been surveying the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Not-For-Profit Sector. Two surveys have been carried out with the first in April/May 2020 and the second in early 2021. 
In April/May 2020 local organizations remained optimistic about the future. The survey results revealed that many local organizations are concerned about financial difficulties, even possibly facing closures in the future, but anticipate an increased need for their services, particularly related to food security and mental health support. 

  • Of the respondents, 87% identified the cancellation of events and/or fundraising activities as a challenge being experienced. 
  • Over 40% of the organizations face financial difficulties and many will need to adjust how they operate to remain viable in the future. 
  • The current restrictions have resulted in 60% of local organizations closing until these restrictions can be lifted with many organizations concerned about how they will generate momentum for public gatherings. Aside from their own impact from COVID-19, many respondents identified the loss of income and jobs as the biggest concern for our community and are worried about the closure of many small businesses and organizations. As the community continues to face uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, many organizations have found new ways to work and are encouraged by the way locals have come together to help each other demonstrate a strong sense of community. 

Recently, these same organizations were surveyed to see how they are doing as the pandemic continues: 

  • The survey results show that fundraising continues to be a challenge for many area charities.  About a third (34%) of organizations responding to the survey, indicated they have only been able to maintain less than 25% of their fundraising compared to the previous years while 22% reported that they were able to maintain 75 to 100% of their fundraising goals.
  • In terms of ranking the type of funding that their organization needs to keep their doors open, 42% of respondents identified operational funding as their top need.  Program grants were second in ranking overall.
  • Other comments made by respondents included the challenges of technology for themselves and their clients, increased operating costs of program delivery, donor fatigue and struggles with engagement of members, volunteers, clients, and the community during these difficult times.
  • Community knowledge helps the Community Foundation grant strategically. Local charities and non-profits organizations across Grey and Bruce counties are invited to apply for Community Grants with a deadline of April 15, 2021.  For this intake only, the allowance for operational support for projects has been increased to a total of 25% of the budget. Visit ://communityfoundationgreybruce.com/grants/community/ to access the online application form.

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Housing vacancy rates remain low and finding available housing for vulnerable people is still very challenging. 
    • Women’s Shelters still remain at 50% capacity and second stage housing is maintaining wait lists as they are extending stays and searching for homes for women and their families. 
    • Organizations are seeing an increase in Indigenous people needing housing – those that are leaving jails, moving off-reserve or coming from other regions. 
    • The YMCA Housing and M’Wikwedong are working with children’s services with many young people age 16-17 to find appropriate housing and supports. 
    • The YMCA completed a recent update of COVID19 protocols with motels that are serving as shelters and re-stocked COVID19 PPE. 
    • While affordable housing is a key topic for many municipalities and new housing task forces are being created, we are also seeing a need do more community education with more “Yes, In My Backyard” or YIMBY campaigns. 
  • The province has announced funding to retirement homes. It will provide Grey Bruce retirement homes with $417,920.10 in funding to assist with COVID-19 costs such as hiring, training and testing additional staff, and sanitizing residences and purchasing supplies to prevent and contain the spread of infection. This funding is in addition to the $30.9 million that the province provided retirement homes earlier in the pandemic.

ADDICTION SUPPORTS

  • An OPIOID Alert has gone out from the Grey Bruce Health Unit. Please see the attached alert for more details on the warning and available supports. Please circulate!  
  • Safe ‘N Sound and the United Way of Bruce Grey have worked together to provide compensation for returning needles or “sharps” in sharp containers. In June 2020, some 16,000 needles were returned. To date, 33,540 needles have been returned. 

FOOD SUPPORTS

  • 9 Grey Bruce Community Partners have provided more than 150,000 free, hot and frozen meals to vulnerable residents in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The Food Bruce Grey app shows an average of nearly 400 of the prepared meals are now provided each day and a monthly record was set in February of 15,900 meals distributed. 
  • Many of these programs are “at capacity” and cannot do much more with the staffing and volunteer resources they have. The volunteer efforts have been incredible and along with the staff of these agencies they are heroes in responding to the pandemic! Most likely these meals will continue throughout the spring and summer as curbside services. 

EQUITY ISSUES

SAVE THE DATE – the next Poverty Task Force meeting is Friday, April 23rd, 10am-11:30am.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 49

Dear Colleagues, 

It has been 1 year since the COVID19 Pandemic was declared and we moved to delivering enhanced emergency programs to people under Pandemic conditions. Collectively we have done incredible things together!

It is amazing how many people have been fed, housed and income supports provided. Mental health supports have increased and everyone is providing more support to reduce isolation and to stay connected under these stressful times. 

At the Poverty Task Force we recognize everyone who has been part of this fantastic outreach. Thank you!  Give yourselves a big hug from us! 

While all of us provide help to the community we also have been taking care of ourselves and our families under Pandemic conditions. At a recent Emergency Food Security meeting we reminded ourselves how important it is for us and our teams to reach out for mental health support services to deal with workplace stress and/or workplace harassment. We are in the helping profession but we need to help ourselves too! Don’t hesitate to reach out to the following support services: 

  • Victim Services Grey Bruce Perth 1-866-376-9852
  • The Mental Health Crisis Line of Grey Bruce – 1-877-470-5200 
  • Call 211 for any other supports

Let’s follow that with some good news!  The provincial government has announced additional dollars for the Social Services Relief Fund. 

  • Grey County will receive $1.77 million in new Social Services Relief Fund money, while Bruce County will get nearly $871,000. This funding will allow current and/or new initiatives to run from April to December 2021. Contact Grey County Housing or Bruce County Housing for details. 

EQUITY, INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY

FOOD SUPPORTS

  • Upcoming webinar on Community Food Gleaning on March 29th, https://gbsusnet.com/cgn, Join by Zoom Call https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82768739044
  • 8,360 Meals have been served through the Meals2Motels partnership from April 2020 to the end of February 2021.
  • Good Food Box token purchases or donations can be made by contacting Colleen Trask Seaman, 519-377-7460, info@oshare.ca. The Owen Sound Good Food Box has a new email address for orders and payment: owensoundgfb@gmail.com
  • February data has been entered for Community Food Programs. (Source: https://www.foodbrucegrey.com/)
    • 155,874 meals have been distributed (12 out of 18 programs reporting)
    • 48,848.53 kilograms of food diverted (29 out of 41 programs reporting)
    • 128,779 kilograms of food distributed reaching 8,519 households (17out of 23 food banks reporting)
  • If you are a Community Food Program or reporting on food insecurity in Grey and Bruce Counties and you need a report for donors, your Board or Community you can join https://www.foodbrucegrey.com/. Contact Paul Wagenaar, food@unitedwaybg.com, 519-378-8348 to learn more.  
  • Grey Bruce School Nutrition Program is looking for food donations for “Grab & Go” bags. Contact Bev Gateman 519-364-5820 x 191. 
  • Support for Food Bank/Meal Program signage, weigh scales, freezers,fridges and other appliances is available. Contact Paul Wagenaar food@unitedwaybg.com, 519-378-8348. 
  • Transportation of food and non-food donations – Contact Paul Wagenaar, food@unitedwaybg.com, 519-378-8348. 
  • Need other resources? Contact info? Contact Jill Umbach, 519-377-9406,   povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com.

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • New funding to Connected for Success, is hoping to reach 750,000 households in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundlant. Both Grey County and Bruce County Social Housing access this program for their tenants. If you are a housing organization (cooperative or not for profit) not currently partnered with Connected for Success, please download the application form here. Once complete, please send to cfsapplication@rci.roger.com 
  • The United Way Mattress Program is provided to people who are experiencing homelessness. It can be accessed through a referral from an agency to the United way by email to assist@unitedwaybg.com or through an intake link here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JSHJRRN. Applicants cannot self-refer to this program. Please see the attached Q&A info sheet for more details on eligibility.  

COMMUNITY BASED COVID19 RECOVERY

  • The Labour Market Information Council reports employment among women remains about 5.3% below where it sat in February 2020 just before the first wave of COVID-19, compared to about 3.7% for men. Women in low-income jobs have been the hardest hit.  The figures will be among many that a newly formed expert panel will deal with as it advises Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on the measures she’ll need to take in her upcoming budget to pave the road to an economic recovery.    
  • The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives new report Women, Work and COVID19 shows that 90,000 more women weren’t doing paid work at the end of 2020 compared to last February, pre-pandemic. Their economic recovery has been stalled—especially among low-income, racialized, Indigenous, and immigrant women. For women to return to the workforce and share in the post-pandemic economic gains, the report argues we are going to need a national, universal child care plan, for starters
  • 10 – A Guide for a Community-Based COVID-19 Recovery is a new resource guide from Tamarack Institute. This resource looks at how communities are recovering from COVID-19 in a variety of ways. Included is an assessment to gauge how a city is working toward a COVID-19 community-based recovery. This provides a baseline and will help communities to explore the ideas and stories included in the guide.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 48

Dear Colleagues, 

The Federal Government has released its Building Understanding: The First Report of the National Advisory Council on Poverty on February 23rd. 

  • If progress made towards poverty reduction is maintained, the Government of Canada will meet its overall poverty reduction targets.
  • Impacts of COVID-19 on poverty reduction remain to be seen.
  • The Report offers key recommendations on how to improve poverty reduction efforts to ensure the 2030 target is met:
    • Continue existing measures to reduce poverty
    • Specific measures to address poverty among Indigenous people
    • More inclusive data gathering to support better decision making
    • Incorporate an equity lens in policy development to meet needs of marginalized groups
    • Work with provinces and territories to ensure a robust social safety net that provides benefits at the level of Canada’s Official Poverty Line. 

Almost 1 year ago, many of us met at the Grey Bruce Public Health Unit to discuss the oncoming Pandemic and pending lockdown. We quickly mobilized to ensure ongoing services to our most vulnerable and within the first few weeks of the lockdown many organizations geared up for even more emergency work.   

One aspect of our work has changed for all of us. “Zooming” has now become the generic verb for videoconferencing. And virtual meetings have become our main means of communication. As we move into a 1 year anniversary, “zoom fatigue” has begun to set in but research and supports are out there. 

  • Stanford researchers have examined “zoom fatigue” and released a recent peer-reviewed article
  • With videoconferencing, most cameras have a set field of view, meaning a person has to generally stay in the same spot. Movement is limited in ways that are not natural.Some potential solutions include: 
    • Zooming out of the full-screen option and reducing the size of the Zoom window to minimize face size.
    • Change the default practice of beaming the video to both self and others, when it only needs to be sent to others. Right click on your own photo and use the “hide self-view” button.
    • Consider the room your videoconferencing in, where the camera is positioned and whether things like an external keyboard can help create distance or flexibility. 
    • Turning your video off periodically during meetings is a good ground rule to set for groups, just to give oneself a brief nonverbal rest.
    • During long stretches of meetings, give yourself an “audio only” break. 
  • Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue (ZEF) Scale has been developed to help measure how much fatigue people are experiencing in the workplace from videoconferencing. If you or your staff are interested in measuring their own Zoom fatigue you can take the survey and participate in the research project. 

There are a variety of ways that we honor International Women’s Day.

  • 25% of Canadian women struggle to pay for feminine hygiene products for themselves and their dependents. Hygiene products are expensive and many women go without food and other necessities in order to afford these products.  Not being able to afford pads and tampons is stressful to women and causes great anxiety for many.  It is estimated that a Canadian woman typically spends up to $6,000 or more in their lifetime on feminine hygiene products.  
  • Many food banks report that pads and tampons are the least donated items. Consider donating feminine hygiene products at your local participating grocery store that accepts donations to the local food bank, women’s shelter or organizations such as Safe ‘N Sound.  
  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce announces a new grant for organizations involved with women and girls. The Kelly Graham Legacy Fund invites applications related to the health and wellness of girls and women including their career advancement and success.

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • This year, under COVID19 conditions, the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program(CVITP) is changing how it provides free services. Many local organizations in Grey Bruce will be offering drop-off/pickup, virtual or phone services, or in-person by appointment clinics. Across both counties, there are over 14 listings in 19 cities/towns that offer free tax services in 2021.   
  • The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force works with 211 each year to compile a Free Income Tax Service listin Grey Bruce; to identify local barriers, and to engage with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), community organizations, and volunteers to address those barriers.  
    • Some of these benefits include the Canada Child Benefit, Trillium Benefit, GST/HST Credit, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. 
    • Seniors living on a low income may qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS; Federal) and the Guaranteed Annual Income Systems (GAINS; Provincial). 
    • Entitlement to GAINS is assessed at the same time as GIS. This is not automatic; seniors have to apply to see if they are eligible. You can do this when you first apply for your Old Age Security (OAS) in Section C of the Application for the Old Age Security Pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement (ISP-3550). 
    • If you already receive OAS and want to apply for the GIS, you can apply on your My Service Canada Account or use the Application for the Old Age Security Pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement (ISP-3550). You need to file your taxes each year to reapply for these benefits. 
  • There has been a lot of confusion and fear around filing taxes this year. For people who received any one of the five COVID-19 related benefits, filing your taxes is very important. It is the best way to keep receiving the benefits and credits you are entitled to. The government is going to make sure those who are eligible still get these benefits for the near future. 
    • If you do owe on your taxes and made less than $75,000 in 2020, the government is extending the time you have to pay to April 30th, 2022 and providing 0% interest for the first year. Completing your taxes this tax season is a good way to make sure you get benefits and credits you are eligible for and gives more flexibility and time to pay outstanding taxes.
  • There are CRA grants available for organizations for hosting free clinics. 
  • The government will extend the current rates for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support from March 14 to June 5, 2021. This means:
    • the maximum wage subsidy rate for workers will remain at 75 per cent;
    • the maximum rent subsidy rate will remain at 65 per cent; and
    • Lockdown Support will remain at 25 per cent, providing hard-hit businesses with rent support of up to 90 per cent.
  • Additionally, the government announced that businesses can continue to use pre-pandemic revenue levels (i.e. 2019) when applying for upcoming periods from March 14 to June 5, 2021. Find out more at bit.ly/388Tm4p 
  • The Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is holding a consultation on alternative financial services. There are two ways to participate:
    • The Ministry is seeking feedback on its draft proposals and options intended to strengthen protections for borrowers and improve the regulation of high-cost credit agreements provided outside of traditional banks and financial institutions – such as instalment loans, lines of credit and auto title loans – through a consultation paper posted on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry. You  can download this paper and submit a written response by March 30, 2021 via email: consumerpolicy@ontario.ca.
    • The Ministry is inviting up to two members of an organization to participate in a virtual meeting with the ministry on March 16, 2021, from 1:00pm to 2:30pm, where an overview of the ideas included in the consultation paper will be provided and participants will have an opportunity to ask questions. We welcome the expert advice of consumer and borrower advocates about how to strengthen protections for borrowers of high-cost credit. Jill Umbach will be attending. If you are able to attend, please let her know so she can register you or register yourself by sending the contacts that will be participating to consumerpolicy@ontario.ca by March 5, 2021.

ORGANIZATION SUPPORTS

  • United Way of Bruce Grey invites area charities to apply for funding to support the broader community. Applications can be pandemic or non-pandemic related. DEADLINE: March 19th, 2021 
  • 3 priority areas:
    • From poverty to possibility –  initiatives that meet people’s basic needs for food, shelter and safety; as well as those that ensure individuals have opportunities to seek stable and sufficient employment, and make education, training and learning opportunities affordable and accessible for all.
    • Healthy people, strong communities – initiatives that reduce barriers and isolation for those with addictions and mental-health issues through counselling, referrals, rehabilitation and other services. As well, services that support seniors and individuals with physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities.
    • All that kids can be –  organizations that are supporting the healthy growth and development of young people. This means actively targeting the source of their challenges and working to address systemic issues. 
  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce invites charities and non-profit organizations across Grey and Bruce counties to submit grant applications for Community Grants DEADLINE April 15, 2021. 
    • Projects must benefit the community in one of the following categories health and wellness, arts and culture, education and lifelong learning, living standards, the environment, and community connections.
  • The Community Services Committee for Southampton  Rotary Club  assists financially and in other ways, organizations that have needs such as women’s shelters, First Nations, mental health services, hospitals, palliative care, etc. They are looking to support any organization that may need help. Contact Stewart Nutt, stewnutt@gmail.com.  

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • The Grey Transit Route has extended its route to Sauble Beach. The pilot project will provide service Friday through Monday for the period of May through September. More information about the schedule will be communicated in the upcoming weeks.

FOOD SUPPORTS

  • The Grey Bruce Community Gardens Network purpose is to CONNECT community gardens, local producers, food banks, and end-users to improve and increase food accessibility to fresh produce for the broader community in the Grey-Bruce region. In particular, we are witnessing how COVID-19 has imposed additional food security challenges and brought to greater public prominence, thus spurring the creation of this network. 
  • Their next webinar is on Community Food Gleaning on March 29th, 6:30-7:30pm with guest speakers Simona Freiberg and Ivan Chan.
  • The Owen Sound Seed Lending Library is now open. To order seeds: contact Carolin cbrooks@owensound.library.on.ca or 519-376-6623 ext. 214.  
  • West Grey Council has endorsed the Bruce Grey Food Charter.
  • Bruce Grey Food app has the latest data on many community meal programs. 
    • 135,728 meals distributed (10 out of 17 programs)
    • 43,633.56 kilograms of diverted food used (27 out of 40 meal programs/food banks)
    • 8,203 HHs (16,261 people) assisted with 124,034 kilograms of food (17 out of 23 food banks) 

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStores are now open in all locations. In 2021, they are planning to build 8 houses.
  • Rural Urban Migration of Individuals Who are Homeless webinar was held on February 25. A panel discussion sharing experiences and strategies to support individuals moving between small towns and urban centres. If you missed this webinar, you can view the Recording of the webinar.
  • Community Connections/CMHA – 1 vacancy out of 102 apartments, 72 residential units full, wait list continues to grow. Agencies are encouraged to support people to access Assertive Community Outreach which has a shorter waitlist, very focused intervention to ensure safety and will still support people to access housing lists. 
  • By-Names List – just over 30 people on the homeless list which was initiated in mid-January 2021. Numbers are higher than homelessness enumeration count. Very positive coordination and referral system in place. 
  • The United Way has food hamper kits for homeless people obtained through referrals from agencies. These have been designed with kettles that can boil and cook; as well as food. These are being pre-positioned for snow days and designed for people living in motels, without cooking facilities or other precarious situations. 

INTERNET SUPPORTS

  • Court warrants are being issued for people who fail to appear in court. Anyone charged with crimes is to appear in court as per their release documents. If they need assistance connecting by video or telephone they can go to Hanover Police Service on the scheduled court date and they will assist you. Please contact your local police station for support to access courts. And a reminder that if someone is involved with the courts, they can ask for a court support worker. Many local organizations offer those supports and then can assist in connectivity for court cases. 
  • The Ontario government is investing $14.3 million in 2020-21 to support nearly 300 Seniors Active Living Centres. These programs will deliver new virtual initiatives to help keep seniors safe and socially connected as they continue to self-isolate due to COVID-19. 
  • This year’s investment will focus on virtual programs such as teleconferences, online videos, one-on-one phone calls to help seniors stay connected from home, and support projects such as:
  • Seniors’ Centre Without Walls to create interactive telephone-based group programming for socially isolated seniors and people with disabilities
  • Virtual physical fitness programming
  • Online craft programs and delivery of pre-made craft kits to seniors
  • Meal programs ranging from curbside pick up to door-to-door deliveries
  • Online educational programs such as tax clinics, technology assistance, health and wellness, and COVID-19 information

HEALTH EQUITY 

Stay well, Jill