The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force Coordinator Jill Umbach joined Tamarack Institute’s 10 Lived/Living Experience Advisory Committee in 2018 as part of the Vibrant Communities‘ multi-sectoral poverty reduction work. Since 2013, members of our Community Voices have been working with the Poverty Task Force as an advisory committee made up of people with “grounded expertise”. People with grounded expertise deeply understand the realities of poverty in Bruce and Grey Counties. Their stories and experiences serve as powerful tools for building compassion and for disrupting and clarifying a community’s understanding of its roots causes and scope.
10 – Engaging People with Lived/Living Experience includes:
- 10 really good ideas for engaging people with lived/living experience;
- 10 stories that inspire (including #10 story of our Community Voices)
- 10 useful resources;
- 10 ways to get started.
The Guide highlights leading practices, inspires new thinking, and serves as a reminder of how critical engagement of people with lived/living experience in poverty reduction truly is.
Take Your Learning Further (links to resources from Section 4):
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In April of 2018, Bruce County and Grey County each conducted a homelessness enumeration using a Period Prevalence Count (PPC) methodology in their respective counties.
The problem of homelessness is most often associated with urban communities, however, a growing body of research over the past 15 years has shown that the problem is also prevalent in rural Canada. The size and the dynamics of the problem in these rural areas is still largely unknown, in part because of unique problems that
rural areas pose for data collection. Rural areas often have fewer services geared towards people experiencing homelessness and the services that are available often serve a large geographical region.
A recent study conducted in rural and northern Ontario found that only 32 percent of service providers in these regions are able to keep ongoing records of their at-risk and homeless populations. This problem is compounded by the fact that rural areas tend to have smaller populations spread out over relatively large geographic regions, making it more difficult to locate those who sleep rough or stay in unsafe dwellings.
The homelessness enumeration was the first of its kind to be conducted in Bruce County and Grey County – the result of a mandate set by the provincial government in 2016 with the passage of the Promoting Affordable Housing Act and the commitment to end chronic homelessness by 2025.
Beginning in 2018, all Ontario municipalities are required to conduct a homeless enumeration every two years with the goals of:
- Improving community awareness and understanding of homelessness;
- Helping to monitor and assess developing trends over time;
- Providing a method through which to measure progress; and
- Strengthening efforts to end homelessness.
The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force Housing Action Group identified organizations across the two counties that work with people experiencing homelessness as hub sites where enumerators would be located to conduct surveys. Front line social service workers were provided enumeration training on the survey tool, empathy training and information on services/programs available for people experiencing homelessness.
Bruce County: over the course of the enumeration week, a total of 17 individuals experiencing homelessness were counted in Bruce County. Eleven of them completed questionnaires. Read more in the full report: 2018 Homeless Enumeration – Bruce County.
Grey County: over the course of the week 33 individuals identified as experiencing homelessness and 29 completed the survey. Read more in the full report to council.
The results are large enough to demonstrate homelessness exists in Grey County and Bruce County. Although the results presented are not generalizable to both counties’ population, they are sufficient to demonstrate that homelessness is a socioeconomic problem in Bruce County and Grey County. The results suggests avenues for further study, particularly in regards to youth and seniors’ homelessness.
The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force supports employment situations that are fair, secure, safe and provide employees with a Living Wage. These are minimum standards necessary in the elimination of poverty. We have published a Labour Reform Infographic 2018 that summarizes the recent changes and what it means for us locally. As changes made to Ontario’s Employment Standards and Labour Relations Act come into place, it is important to reflect how these changes will impact those affected by poverty locally.
30% of employed Ontarians in non-Metro Census Divisions are paid a low wage. That is a large percentage of people locally who may be paid a low wage and then we have to consider that some of the changes also change precarious work practices.
- Minimum wage increase to $14/hr effective 1 Jan 2018
- Minimum wage increase to $15/hr effective 1 Jan 2019
- Equal pay for equal work
- Updated regulations around shift scheduling
- 3 hours pay for shifts cut to less than 3 hours or cancelled less than 48 hours in advance
- 10 emergency leave days, including 2 paid sick days per year
- Card-based voting for unionization
- Hiring aditional employment standards officers (for greater enforcement and accountability)
What does this mean?
- More than 1 million of Ontario’s lowest wage employees received a big raise, the most signficant in almost 50 years.
- Flexibility and stability through advance notice of scheduling and paid sick time will be afforded to all workers.
- Quality of life, in the form of health and family outcomes, improves with higher income and decreased employment precarity.
- Keeping money local. When the lowest wage workers earn extra income, they are able to spend money on necessities within their own communities. They are able to buy more and better groceries, warm clothes for their children and keep up with bills.
What’s the downside?
We have heard from people with low-incomes, as well as from service providers that work closely with marginalized populations that they are concerned about possible negative impacts. They are anticipating lay-offs, increases in ‘under the table’ hiring, and fewer jobs overall. Some employers have already reduced hours, raised prices or eliminated other non-mandated perks previously offered to employees.
While those for, against, and ambivalent to these changes can all cite evidence that supports their perspective, the Poverty Task Force is of the view that these changes will be beneficial overall. We also believe it will be important to measure actual outcomes closely. We shall continue to monitor the impacts locally and will always advocate with and for lower income, precarious workers.