Media Release: Help available to file tax returns

February 22, 2018

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force and Grey Bruce Health Unit encourage everyone to file a tax return, especially those with low or modest income. Filing a tax return helps identify benefits they can collect and may result in more money back. Getting help with filing tax returns is available throughout Grey Bruce. The Task Force has created a list of Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance services to help people find the service closest to them.

“Many people have no idea they can get money back. They fear being told to pay the government for large back taxes. But this is not the case for most people on low income.” Says Jill Umbach, Coordinator of Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force. “It is important to file this year to take advantage of tax credits to increase your annual income. You don’t have to file your previous taxes first to catch up. Many community tax clinics will help you to file for previous years as well.”

There are good reasons to file:
1. To qualify for programs including the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the GST/HST credit, and the Ontario Trillium Benefit, which all pay cash when you qualify.
2. To take advantage of certain tax credits like the Working Income Tax Benefit.
3. To recover any tax you may have overpaid from your pay cheque.

People on low income may not have access to affordable or relevant tax filing services and may not know about benefits and assistance available to them including targeted approaches suited to their specific needs.

Tax time is a good time to apply for the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP). Those who have not applied to OESP may be missing out on a monthly benefit towards their hydro bill, starting at $35.00 and upwards, based on income. The United Way of Bruce Grey and Grey Bruce Community Income Tax Clinic can assist with an application.

Free tax services are available to people on low income all across Grey Bruce. Call 211 or check online at 211 Information Bruce Grey.

For More Information:

Jill Umbach, Planning Network Coordinator,  Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, 519-377-9406, jill.umbach@gmail.com

Allison Murray, Health Promoter, Grey Bruce Health Unit
519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 ext. 1343
allison.murray@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca

Dealing with the cost of utilities in Bruce Grey_a new report

15 October 2013

A recent report by Bruce and Grey Counties summarizes the changes in job security and the impact of the rising cost of utilities.

It is estimated that about 1 in 3 Canadians live pay cheque to pay cheque and support service agencies in Bruce and Grey Counties find that most of the people they serve fall into this category. This means that a sudden change in a household’s situation, such as job loss, sickness or family break-up, can easily lead to housing affordability issues, including utility arrears.

Poverty is a root cause for this precarious position and the rising cost of utilities is yet one more issue that households in poverty have to cope with.

In Bruce and Grey Counties, the face of poverty is changing – service providers are starting to see seniors who are facing challenges and this was not the case in the past. While many seniors no longer have a mortgage on their home, many have modest, fixed incomes that are no longer sufficient to cover the rising costs of maintaining their homes, including utilities. Some seniors are particularly affected and anecdotal accounts have reported seniors going to bed in snow suits, using barbeques in their kitchens or reducing food purchases as a way to cope with utility costs. Many people refuse to ask for help with their utilities until the situation is quite dire, which in turn requires more community resources to resolve.

Recent data on service inquiries underscore the growing impact of utility issues. Community Connection/Ontario 211 receives calls and provides information on the services available in local communities. In 2012, the agency received a total of 2,401 call related to housing need from Grey County residents. Of these, 79% (1,895 calls) were related to utility arrears. Similarly, the agency received a total of 1,060 calls from Bruce County residents and 86% (919 calls) were related to utility arrears.

The issue of utility arrears affects the whole community and addressing it requires the collaboration of multiple stakeholders, including support service agencies, governments, utility providers and the clients themselves. Workshop participants proposed a number of solutions to help address the issue of utility arrears in Bruce and Grey Counties. The challenge ahead is how to advance possible solutions and make progress in alleviating utility arrears issues.

As part of the workshop, participants suggested possible next steps, including:
• Continue to meet on this issue and engage other stakeholders, such as the Legal Clinic and Poverty Task Force
• Increase political awareness on the issue
• Undertake educational activities for clients, including workshops and developing educational material
• Advocate for additional LEAP and CHPI funding
• Fundraise in the community

See the full report: Utilities Workshop – What We Heard Utility Workshop FINAL October 3, 2013

Update on status of available funds for Utilities Assistance

23 September 2013

United Way Bruce Grey Utilities Support Update 

Union Gas, Westario   Please advise customers that there will be no more funding until the New Year and they are to call 211 at that time.

Hydro One   Please advise customers that there will be no more funding until the New Year and they are to call 1-855-487-5327 at that time.

OIL, WOOD, PROPANE, WATER/SEWER -> Please advise customer to call 211 but that there are no current funds available and that they will be put on a waiting list.

Holly Devlin, AFCC

Community Response Co-ordinator

assist@unitedwaybg.com

———————————————————–

United Way Bruce Grey

Change starts here.

———————————————————–

380 9th Street East Owen Sound ON N4K 1P1

519 376 1560 | 800 794 1728 I fax 519-376-5458

www.unitedwayofbrucegrey.com

———————————————————–