Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 115

Dear Colleagues, 

More than ever, as the number of families experiencing food insecurity is soaring, so is the need for us to work together to increase food accessibility for children, families and seniors. 

The Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto saw more visits in March 2023 than it ever has before, saying visits have quadrupled since the COVID-19 pandemic. The rise in clients is attributed to the stagnating income that hasn’t kept pace with inflation and the rising cost of housing.

While our Food Bruce Grey app is still collecting the first quarter 2023 local data, community food programs are reporting that their numbers have not decreased and many are seeing an increase in new clients. 

Many of these community food programs are run by volunteers or heavily rely on volunteers. A recent article in The Philanthropist Journal speaks to the crisis and the CEO of the United Way PEI has stated “We’re at a tipping point here. In rural areas especially, the same people are being asked to sit on every board and service club.”  With a decline in volunteers there is staff burnout and donor fatigue challenging the work of non-profit organizations. 

  • Statistics Canada has reported that volunteer participation in Canada is at an all-time low – thanks to the pandemic.  More than 65% of non-profit organizations serving households and individuals are experiencing a shortage of volunteers. 
  • A 2022 Ontario Nonprofit Network report indicates that 62% of 1,500 non-profit organizations surveyed lost volunteers. More than 50% are struggling to recruit new volunteers, and 40% say they are having difficulty convincing former volunteers to return.
  • Charity Insights Canada Project survey, 59% of respondents indicated that the pandemic affected how they engaged with volunteers, and 57% said they were experiencing difficulty recruiting volunteers.

Potential solutions include acknowledging the impact of the pandemic, understanding generational differences, and convincing funders to do more to help organizations.


  • Grey Bruce Public Health have been notified of 7 non-fatal overdoses within the last 4 days in Grey-Bruce (12 April 2023). 
  • Fentanyl is the suspected drug in almost all of the overdoses, the method of administration was inhalation/smoking.  
  • Grey Bruce Public Health, SOS, GBHS, CMHA and other partners are undertaking outreach efforts in targeted locations/communities. The teams will be equipped with naloxone, safe use equipment, education and can connect individuals to health and social services. 
  • SOS Mobile Outreach will be holding the next fixed site event at the Owen Sound Farmers Market on Wednesday April 19th from 1-3p.m. Please encourage clients to attend.
  • Please encourage all people who use drugs to have naloxone on hand and to always use drugs with a sober friend who can administer naloxone. Call 911 in the case of an overdose. Naloxone is available at pharmacies, participating communities and at Grey Bruce Public Health Mon-Fri, 8:30 am to 4 pm, no appointment needed. 


  • National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirited People also known as Red Dress Day on May 5th honours the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, 2 spirit, and gender diverse people in Canada by encouraging learning and building awareness to end violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2 spirit, and gender diverse people. 
  • Call to Action 41 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report calls on the federal government of Canada to begin an inquiry into the numerous cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
  • Starting in 2016, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girlsheld 15 community hearings, and spoke with 2,386 people. A final report was released in June 2019 which includes 231 Calls for Justice that “represent important ways to end the genocide and to transform systemic and societal values that have worked to maintain colonial violence.
  • A Community Fire to remember and honour women shall be held at Gichi-Name Wiikwedong Reconciliation Garden, Kelso Beach, Nawash Park. 11am-1pm. All are welcome. 


  • My Dad’s Group: BGCFS and the Men’s Program/CMHA start new spring sessions on May 8th and 16th in Hanover and Owen Sound.  Read more at: CMHA website. Register by calling 519-372-2720 or emailing Jon Farmer at jfarmer@cmhagb.org.


  • Ultra-Low Overnight Electricity Price Plan: the Ontario government has announced a new price plan.  The new ultra-low overnight rate, set by the Ontario Energy Board, will be 2.4 cents/kilowatt-hour (kWh), everyday, 11pm-7am, which is 67% lower than the current off-peak rate.
  • Rebound Owen Sound: held a community housing awareness event for the City of Owen Sound on March 23rd, 2023. The event brought many partners together on a panel and is posted on YouTube at:shorturl.at/aqsGZ  
  • Housing Affordability Matrix for Owen Sound Personal Support Workers (PSWs) was discussed at the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay. Erin Deviney, Analyst, concluded that there is a tremendous demand for PSWs in Owen Sound and affordable housing would be challenging for the salaries available.  Read more at: shorturl.at/irKWX 
  • Homeless Encampments: the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate has launched a dedicated online portal where people can share their stories as well the solutions they would like to see for people living in homeless encampments. 
  • The Federal Housing Advocate invites individuals and organizations across Canada, particularly people with lived experience of encampments and organizations that work with them, to contribute to the formal review of homeless encampments. You can find more information about the review and the Advocate’s work on this issue here


  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce: Spring and Fall community projects grant applications are open. Deadlines are Friday, April 15th and Sept 15th, 2023. Apply online or contact Jennifer Legge, Grants and Donor Relations Coordinator, 519-371-7203,  jen.legge@cfgb.ca for more info.


  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave: on March 31st, 2023 the Ontario government ended the paid sick leave portion of the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL).  Through the IDEL program, employees could get up to 3 paid sick days, up to $200/day, between April 19, 2021, and March 31, 2023.  The government has not said when unpaid IDEL leave will stop being available. CLEO has prepared some guidance for employers and employees on the changes and what remains. 
  • OSAP Loans Payment:  effective April 1st, 2023, the Government of Canada has permanently eliminated the accumulation of interest on all Canada Student Loans including loans currently being repaid. You continue to be responsible to pay any interest that may have accrued on your loan before April 1, 2023.