Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 91

2022 Election Education Update # 2

Dear Colleagues, 

Thank you to everyone who has written or spoken with your local candidates to support a Basic Income. Please continue to ask MPP Candidates to take the Basic Income Now pledge. You can check which MPP candidates have pledged to support a Basic Income. 

The concept of a universal basic income in Canada has earned more attention over the past couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). According to a study by the Angus Reid Institute earlier this year, 59% of Canadians support proposals for universal basic income programs for people earning under $30,000. 

  • Elections Ontario is mailing out voter information cards between May 12th and 20th. If you don’t receive a card, you can add or update your information to the list by May23rd and still get a card. You can support people to register here.  
  • Ways to Vote. Cyndy Wheeler, Elections ON Public Relations Officer is available to support agencies to register people. Any questions can be directed to: cyndyswheeler@gmail.com

ELECTION DEBATES/AWARENESS

  • Several communities are facing a very conservative voter base, including those who mistrust government
  • Plain language education/awareness-raising of party platforms and implications for low-income voters is an essential tactic along with engaging low-income residents to vote; challenge: capacity to synthesize all platforms
  • Centring people with lived/living experience – Bruce Grey’s Community Voices previously researched the platforms and brought candidates one-by-one to their table to discuss poverty-related issues with the group; Cornwall, SDG & Akwesasne’s LEAG will craft three of the all-candidate debate questions, co-hosted with the Chamber of Commerce
  • Huron County P2P and Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force are focusing on income security as the best solution to poverty-related issues, such as housing and food. Poverty Task Force shared their Basic Income Postcards.

ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES 

Here are just a few opportunities, please let us know of other opportunities! 

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Riding

  • All Candidates Debate, May 18, 6:30 p.m., Kinplex in Flesherton
  • All Candidates Debate  May 19, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Keady Community Centre
  • 12-17 May 2022 – virtual All Candidate Debates hosted by justrecoverysimcoe.ca/elementor-1455

Information Session for potential municipal election candidates

  • Bruce County Municipal Election Hybrid Information Session: Bruce County Municipalities at a free information session virtually provided by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Find out everything you need to know about running for municipal office.  Thursday, June 23, 2022 – 7-9pm,in-person and virtual meeting.
  • The municipal role in housing: The four papers in this series, produced by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance and the Urban Policy Lab, look at affordable housing, rental housing, social housing, and homelessness. They identify the ideal role of municipalities in housing policy, where municipalities currently face constraints, how other orders of government can support municipalities, and where intergovernmental cooperation is needed. Read the papers

ELECTION RESOURCES 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update #26

Dear Colleagues, 

Day 149, 22 weeks. How is everyone doing? 

Rev David Shearman wrote an article for the Owen Sound Sun Times highlighting some of the data from our Community Updates and he highlights the losses to the nonprofit/charity sector as fundraising events have been canceled in 2020.  We continue to be grateful for government and non-government funding that allows our partners to continue to provide emergency services and other essential services. 

INCOME SUPPORTS 

Across all our partner organizations we have been monitoring the government’s income support and the transformation of the CERB.   

  • The federal government is extending the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) until 27 September, 2020 and revamping the employment insurance program to allow more people to receive financial assistance during COVID-19.  
  • Self-employed or gig workers can apply for a benefit of up to $400 a week for up to 26 weeks if they have stopped working or had reduced incomes due to COVID-19.  They can continue to earn money, but will be required to repay 50 cents of every dollar earned above $38,000.
  • A second new benefit will provide 10 days of paid sick leave to any worker in Canada who falls ill or has to self-isolate due to COVID-19. That will provide $500 a week, and a claimant can’t claim this benefit and another sick leave payment at the same time.    
  • recent report from RBC Economics called the hit on women’s employment  “unprecedented,” with 1.5 million women in Canada losing their jobs in the first two months of the pandemic.  Women’s participation in the Canadian workforce has fallen to a level not seen in decades, and with uncertain school plans and reduced options for child care, some women are not returning to work. 

Basic Income

  • Tamarack and the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction hosted a webinar, Basic Income: Business Perspective, to explore what a Canadian Basic Income would mean for business, the economy, and society. 
  • On Friday, August 14th, UBI Works released a plan called “Recovery UBI” which proposes $500/month tax free for all Canadian adults and a guaranteed minimum income of $2,000/month ($3,000/month for couples).
  • In September 2020, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce will propose a resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The resolution, if passed, will ask the Federal Government to run a Basic Income Pilot and study the costs and benefits of rolling out a national basic income thereafter should that be the findings of the pilot. The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s impetus is to address future labour market disruptions.
  • Sameer Nurmohamed of the Basic Income Canada Network proposes a plan called “UBI-FIT: Using the Tax System to Fund a Basic Income” which proposes an annual Basic Income of $24,000 tax free for everyone and a flat income tax rate of 38%. 

FINANCE EDUCATION 

  • The United Way of Bruce Grey’s Financial Literacy Program Coordinator, in partnership with the YMCA, will be hosting a webinar on Budgeting in Tough Times on Monday, August 24th from 10:00am-11:00am.

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • The federal government will be partnering with Second Harvest, Food Banks Canada and more than 100 food businesses and non-profit organizations to deliver a new Surplus Food Rescue Program
  • Grey Bruce Community Food Programs are connected with the Foodrescue.ca program of Second Harvest via OSHaRE and connected to Food Banks Canada through the local Salvation Army Owen Sound and some other larger food banks who are members. We have created 2 Distribution Hubs to community meals programs via OSHaRE and to food banks via The Salvation Army Owen Sound.
  • A new Grey Bruce Community Gardens Coordinator and a Food Security Coordinator have been hired to support more links between partners and the work of these distribution hubs and community-based hubs. Fresh produce has been moving from the Meaford Community Gardens and other local producers to food banks and community meal programs. 
  • Overall, we have seen an increase in food bank usage which is being attributed to the ending of CERB for some individuals. 
  • We have also seen an increase in people at the food banks who have received eviction notices in the last week with very short lockouts times (2-3 days notice).  People who have received eviction notices should contact the Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic immediately or contact Grey County or Bruce County to assist with rent arrears prior to eviction notices. 
  • South East Grey Community Health Centre will be opening up a new Community Cafe in Dundalk at its Erskine Centre.  Newly purchased freezers and kitchen equipment will enable cooking healthy meals, get fit program and a distribution point for ready-made frozen meals (YUM Program). 
  • CMHA Roots Cafe will be opening up soon for curbside service in Owen Sound. Community Gardens have staggered food production and are producing lots of fresh produce for community hot and frozen meals.   

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • The Grey Bruce Health Unit has updated its Considerations for Shelters guidelines
  • As mentioned above, within the last week there has been a large number of eviction notices going out from the Sheriff’s office.  Contact the YMCA Housing, Bruce County Housing, Grey County Housing or M’Wikwedong IFC housing program about rent arrears supports. There is funding to pay arrears and with the low vacancy rates across Grey County and Bruce County it is easier to negotiate with landlords than to re-house people. 
  • Contact the Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic for a stay of eviction. 
  • People are encouraged to “make a winter housing plan” now and that is looking at ability to pay rent, pay utilities, etc. and contact 2-1-1 or see the Grey Bruce Community housing or utility support services
  • YMCA Housing is organizing “boots to the ground” meetings with partners to increase lines of communication/protocols between housing partners.  Recent joint wellness checks of tent encampments in Owen Sound raised no major concerns. 
  • Several housing agencies and the Grey Bruce Health Services reported an increase of out-of-region clients seeking housing and other support services in the last month.   
  • Transitional housing: M’Wikwedong IFC is busy on new transitional housing for Indigenous communities. Safe ‘N Sound is updating its transitional housing program. Grey County has a wait list of over 600 people waiting for social housing and are always looking for investment dollars for transitional/second stage housing.  

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • The Guelph Owen Sound Transportation, (‘GOST’) transit service will begin operations on Monday, August 31, 2020.  The service will operate seven days a week.  The route will start from the Owen Sound Transit Terminal and stop at Chatsworth, Williamsford, Durham, Mount Forest, Arthur, Fergus and Elora before arriving at the final destination of Central Station in Guelph. The service will be provided by Voyago, who will use a brand new, fully accessible 20+2 passenger bus.

CHILD YOUTH SUPPORTS 

  • Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr Ian Arra will join Lori Wilder, Director Bluewater District School Board and Gary O’Donnell, Director Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board for a Facebook Live forum on safe and successful school re-opening. 
  • The event will be hosted on the Grey Bruce Health Unit Facebook Live page starting at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 26, 2020. The session will be recorded and made available on the Grey Bruce Health Unit YouTube channel. 
  • Questions for the participants can be forwarded to the Grey Bruce Health Unit through Facebook message, through the ‘Contact Us’ page on our website, or by email to publichealth@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 22

Dear Colleagues, 

For many of us, the majority of our work involves navigating social support systems with people to ensure access. At the Poverty Task Force, our work involves identifying and addressing systemic barriers. 

Some days, it feels like the system is a series of holes that are getting deeper for people to climb out of.  No matter how hard people dig and how many shovels we give them – they have to dig deeper to get out of one hole only to have another hole open up next to them. For example, we welcomed the income support of CERB but we and anti-poverty groups are now worrying about repayment by people who may find themselves ineligible. 

  • The Perth-Huron Social Research and Planning Council has released a discussion paper, “Making a Livable Income: The Next Layer of Protection”. The paper promotes and discusses the practicalities of a Universal Basic Income. The paper highlights that “rural areas and small towns would also be the biggest winners economically, from a Basic Income because small towns and rural regions would see the largest stimulus effects of a Basic Income.”
  • The United Way of Bruce Grey has released the numbers for its Utility Assistance Program. Despite not being able to meet with clients from mid March, 2020 and an extended utilities disconnection ban through to July 31st, there wasn’t a significant decline in the number of households seeking support. 
  • The Meeting Place in Tobermory is a ‘community hub’ providing a unique blend of rural social support to those who may be in stressful situations, are isolated or need system navigation. In their recent Annual Report, they reported they have seen a significant increase in clients under COVID19. 
  • The Community Connector expressed her concerns “that many people collecting CERB have not put away some of their benefits to pay the tax on it come next tax season …  Many clients, and myself, are concerned with what will happen come fall. With the late start to the season, what will EI look like? The majority of clients rely on EI for income, and barely get enough hours to collect benefits for 4-5 months. Will they even qualify this year? If they do, will it run out in February?”   

INCOME SUPPORTS 

Under COVID19, the government announced a ban on disconnects for natural gas and electricity for non-payments.  As of August 4th, 2020,the utility disconnect ban will end.  

  • Customers who were behind in payments prior to March 2020 will be targeted for disconnection first. They should expect collection activities and disconnection orders to be issued.  
  • The United Way of Bruce Grey has pulled together an update on the rules and processes to be followed on utility disconnections. (See Attached) along with other supports.
  • Call 211 for eligibility criteria and how to apply to various utility support programs.    
    • LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program) will open again when the disconnection ban ends.  This assistance is only available if you are behind on your bill payment and may be facing a service disconnection. 
    • CEAP (COVID19 Energy Assistance Program) is available to customers who 1) have an account in good standing on March 17th, 2020, 2) failed to make full payment on at least 2 bills issued since March 17th, 2020, 3) have an overdue balance on the date of their application to CEAP and 4) have not received any LEAP or OESP funding in 2020. 
  • Canada Child Benefit:  starting in July 2020, the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit will increase to keep pace with the cost of living.  CCB is based on a family’s income from the previous year and is tax-free.  That means: 
    • up to $6,765 per child under age 6 
    • and up to $5,708 per child age 6 through 17
  • Disability payment: a one time tax free, non-reportable payment of $600 will be distributed to people with disabilities and their families as they face new costs and navigate challenges due to COVID-19.    The one-time disability payment — which originally was only going to benefit Canadians who qualify for the federal disability tax credit — will now also go to those receiving disability benefits through the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan and Veterans Affairs Canada.  
  • Wage Subsidy – The Federal Government passed legislation (C-10) that makes changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. The changes include changing eligibility to expand the number of businesses eligible, changes the amount companies can put toward their worker’s wages, and extends the program to the end of the year.  

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

Stay well, Jill