Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 34

Dear Colleagues, 

Some weeks are just rough. 

At our Emergency Housing & Homelessness virtual meeting this week we acknowledged that some First Nation communities are in crisis.  And that racism and health equity issues are still presenting barriers. 

We know that so many of us have been working non-stop since the start of the pandemic and we are tired.  Dr. Donald Cole, Grey Bruce Public Health,  reminded us to “focus on resilience in the face of discouraging trends and hard realities.”  We were reminded that so much of the rapid emergency response we have sustained and will continue to provide is built upon the strength of our working relationships. These have been forged over many years and across both counties.  
We do find hope and inspiration with the collective actions of partners.  An open letter from Ian Reich, Public Health Manager, GBHU to the public also reminds us to be kinder to people who test positive for COVID 19. 

“We are in this together, and we must all lean on each other. Now is not the time to get angry and bully each other. Now is the time to carry each other through tough times, knowing that we may need assistance, encouragement and support at some point in the future. Let us collectively fight this pandemic as a united community. The only way to do this is by understanding, and being sympathetic to each other’s situation.”  


  • Housing, Outreach & Wellness Grey-Bruce (HOW Grey Bruce): is open in the former Owen Sound Downtown Improvement Area location, 854 2ndAve. E.  Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The aim is to improve access to mental health and addiction services by being downtown, where many who need help are, with greater integration of agencies that can help and address the increasing number of homeless people in Owen Sound.  
  • YMCA Housing has provided 4,500 nights of shelter, sheltered 692 people and moved 172 people into more permanent housing.   
  • Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce: is now accepting applications for home ownership in Hanover. Deadline for applications is Dec 7th, 2020. If anyone has questions, you can call Rachelle @ 519-371-6776 ext 101.
  • The 2020 Ontario Budget for 2020-2021 was released (up to March 2021) includes an investment of $510 million through the Social Services Relief Fund to help municipal service managers and Indigenous housing partners protect homeless shelter staff and residents, expand rent support programming and create longer-term housing solutions. 
  • The budget did not include any new specific measures for early years and child care, housing and homelessness, or social assistance, beyond what was announced prior to the budget.  


  • At-home schooling costs: The 2020 Ontario budget renews funding to help parents with the added costs of at-home education (workbooks, school supplies and technology). The program consists of $200 per child under 12 and $250 per child or youth with special needs.   
  • Backpacks and school supplies: the United Way of Bruce Grey still has backpacks available for any student in Grey Bruce. Contact the office directly. 
  • Janice Bye Memorial/Community Foundation GB have an award of $1,500 (or smaller amounts if more than one student chosen) for special needs students in Grey or Bruce.  Deadline is November 25th.  Click here for more information and application.  
  • Leads Employment Services Options Program:  for youth with disabilities and barriers facilities paid group training and supported placements. They are struggling to find placements and spaces in rural communities for clients. Therefore the program is being offered virtually. If aware of any available opportunities and spaces to meet clients, please reach out to Tracey Leroux.    
  • Seniors tax credit: The 2020 Ontario Budget includes a new tax credit to help seniors live in their homes longer. It will reimburse them for 25% on eligible renovations of up to $10,000, regardless of their income and whether they owe taxes for 2021. 
  • The government says the minimum credit will be set at $2,500. The temporary measure can be used for things like installing wheelchair ramps, non-slip flooring, and additional light fixtures. 
  • Old Age Security (OAS)/Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) Alert: More than 30% of Canadian seniors 65+ are eligible for GIS payments, on top of their OAS pensions. But as of last month thousands had not yet filed their 2019 tax returns, which puts them at risk of having their GIS payments interrupted in January. This reminds everyone of our Free Community Income Tax Services for Grey Bruce.
  • The Chartered Professional Accountants Canada commissioned a national survey ‘2020 Canadian Finance Study‘. According to the survey:
    • 1/3 of Canadians say the stress associated with money management has increased due to COVID-19
    • 31% of respondents say their income has decreased as a result of COVID-19
    • 30% report COVID-19 has reduced the amount they are saving
    • 55% say they are spending less, on average
    • 21% of pre-retired respondents say they now plan to retire later as a result of COVID-19


The Federal government announced over $200 million in new funding to provide support to Indigenous peoples and communities. The funding includes: 

  • $120.7 million to help Indigenous early learning and child care facilities safely operate during the pandemic. The investment is expected to support over 35,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation children. This funding will be co-managed through existing early learning and child care partnerships. 
  • $59 million for First Nations to adapt their on reserve community infrastructure. First Nations can use the funds to implement public health and safety measures. 
  • $25.9 million to provide immediate support to Indigenous post-secondary institutions in 2020-21. 


  • A new report by Public Health Canada – From Risk to Resilience: An Equity Approach to COVID19 reveals that COVID-19 pandemic affects us all, the health impacts have been worse for seniors, essential workers, racialized populations, people living with disabilities and women.  
  • The Vibrant Communities – Cities Reducing Poverty 2020 Impact Report captures national trends in poverty reduction and the important ways in which member Cities Reducing Poverty collaboratives are contributing to those changes.


  • Meals to Motels: 4,274 meals todate have been delivered from OSHaRE by Habitat for Humanity and through shelter referrals from the YMCA Housing. 
  • Close to 75,000 meals have gone out with 5 partners since March 2020. 
  • foodbrucegrey.com data entry is ongoing and providing a picture of how much food that community food banks, meal programs and gardens have distributed. 
  • The Keeping Not-for-Profits Connected under COVID 19 continues to distribute surplus food throughout Grey Bruce. Emergency boxes from Feed Ontario/Food Banks Canada and surplus food obtained through foodrescue are being distributed this week. 
  • Community food programs are preparing for winter with many adaptations to spaces and for Christmas with registration for hampers. 


Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 23

Dear Colleagues, 

COVID19 pandemic has created more opportunities for reflection on the work that we do and it has certainly promoted discussions at all levels of government and across Ministries; and with nongovernmental agencies. Together everyone is working to find solutions to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.  

Mohammad Karamouzian who is a member of the Trudeau Foundation COVID19 Impact Committeewrites that COVID19 is not a “great equalizer” but it has exposed a range of pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequities in our communities.  He recommends that solutions being found now should not disappear after the pandemic subsides. 

  • The federal government announced today that it will transition recipients of the CERB to the Employment Insurance (EI) program this fall.  It was also announced the Federal government will also create a “transitional, parallel benefit” that is similar to EI for people who don’t qualify for the unemployment benefit, such as contract and gig workers.  
  • The Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives released its Alternative Federal Budget Recovery Plan.  Attached are some chapters from the Plan on poverty, gender equality, racial equality and housing.
  • The Institute for Gender and the Economy at the Rotman School of Management and YWCA Canada co-wrote A Feminist Recovery Plan for Canada that outlines 8 recommendations for how to make the economy work for everyone. They also have an engaging website: https://www.feministrecovery.ca/.  


  • Schools Reopening: The Ontario government has announced that children/youth will be back to school full-time in September.
  • CERB Payment:  The last scheduled CERB pay period is set to end on Sept. 26.  
  • CERB Repayment: Any Ontario Works or ODSP clients who have received CERB/CESB benefits, and are later notified that they have been found to be ineligible for those benefits, are advised to contact their caseworker as the treatment of these situations are unique to individual circumstances.  
  • The CRA does usually garnish CPP, OAS, HST, etc. if there are debts owing to the federal government, however, the CRA is currently not garnishing any federal income sources. ie Disability Tax Credit one-time payment or OAS. 
  • Recipients who were not eligible are asked to repay as much as possible before December 31st, 2020. The CRA will discuss repayment plans with recipients. These can be as low as $25 a month. 
  • Anyone with questions about their CERB/CESB eligibility is advised to contact the CRA directly, or visit their website for information on how to return the CERB/CESB benefits. 
  • Income Tax filing, payment and benefits:  the CRA is now reporting that some Canadians will face payment delays if the CRA can’t process their 2019 returns before the beginning of September. 
  • For late-filers, the CRA has been using 2018 tax-year information to calculate the CCB and GST/HST credit amounts for July, August and September. But those payments could stop in October 2020 if the CRA doesn’t receive a 2019 return by September 30th, 2020. 
  • Some people may have to repay the CCB and HST/GST credits they received for July, August, and September if they do not file by September 30th.
  • Community Volunteer Income Tax Clinics – If you are running a CVITP, please ensure your information is up to date with 211.  Free Income Tax Clinics 2020 are listed on 211. 
  • Grey County Social Services has relocated its Markdale Ontario Works satellite office to the South East Grey Community Health Centre.   
  • Grey County Ontario Works services continue to be delivered remotely and program recipients should contact their regular caseworker.  New applicants should call 519-376-7324 or apply online.  


  • The YMCA has created a new video: Dealing with Difficult People under COVID19 conditions. This short video aims to assist employees to develop strategies for handling situations that arise when implementing new health and safety protocols  such as wearing face coverings, physical distancing, hand sanitizing etc.  
  • PPE: Bruce County businesses can now apply for a grant of $1,500 to offset the cost of COVID-19 safety supplies; a total of $250,000 is available. Details are attached. 


  • Community Food Programs in Grey Bruce are working through the summer to grow food, deliver meals and food baskets.
  • The United Way of Bruce Grey has granted $390,000 in Emergency Community Support Grants.  
  • Close to 700 meals were distributed by mid-July by the YUM Program out of South East Grey Community Health Centre. 525 meals in June.
  • Habitat for Humanity will continue to deliver supplies, meals and produce until the end of December 2020.
  • The Salvation Army Owen Sound has distributed $12,900 in gift cards to clients to ensure that non-Christian clients can purchase appropriate meat based on religious practices. The Salvation Army Owen Sound continues to share surplus food with all food banks. 
  • Many food banks and kitchens have received Emergency Community Support Funds to increase their capacity with new equipment such as freezers. 
  • Several new initiatives were funded including the Community Garden Network and Community Living Peninsula Food Security Project to improve the flow of fresh produce to food banks and community meal programs. 
  • The YMCA summer camps have received $6,000 in funds to distribute $25 gift cards to parents to send lunches. 
  • M’Wikwedong staff are supporting clients to access $150 food cards from Nawash program with applications to be completed by August 31st, 2020.


  • With low vacancy rates, wait lists for housing and complex cases involving homelessness, mental health and substance misuse housing workers are challenged to find lasting solutions. In the first half of July, the YMCA housed 20 people and provided 234 nights of shelter to 45 people. 
  • The Grey Bruce Public Health issued an overdose alert after receiving confirmation from county paramedic services of 6 opioid poisonings within 5 days across the Grey-Bruce region. 
  • Wellness checks continue with the OPP, CMHA and YMCA Housing on tent encampments. 
  • Bill 184 was passed and there are concerns about the impact on tenants when the eviction ban is lifted.  


  • Grey County Transit Route (GTR): announced it is negotiating with Driverseat to run its new service.  Grey County’s plan is to launch its Highway 10 route at the start of September, followed by its Highway 26 route in mid-September, its Highway 6 route in early October and its Grey Road 4 route in early to mid-October.


Stay well, Jill