Poverty Task Force/Community Update # 89

Dear Colleagues, 

Ajuinata – is this a word that explains where we are at right now? 

Ajuinata is an Inuktitut word rooted in a spirit of perseverance against harsh conditions. In a recent CBC interview, Governor General Mary Simon, explained ajuinata means that “if you’re confronted with adversity or things that are difficult, you keep going, you don’t give up, and you need to make a commitment to continue to make changes.” 

This describes so many community partners in Grey Bruce. We continue to work under pandemic conditions and numbers of people supported are not going down, but rising.  The month of March 2022 saw the highest numbers of people fed at community food programs and the numbers of people are high at drop-in services such as Safe ‘N Sound. 

  • Vital Signs on Housing Report will be released on May 12th, 2022 at the Harmony Centre, Owen Sound. The public is invited to learn about the findings related to housing in Grey and Bruce Counties that address affordability and accessibility, equity, living standards, and wellbeing. Please register in advance.  
  • National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) is May 5, 2022. Events are planned for the day, including a Community Fire at Gitche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden. 
  • National Action Plan on Combating Hate: the federal government  has launched consultations to develop a National Action Plan.  People are encouraged to complete an online questionnaire by May 4, 2022, especially those with lived experience of hate.  
  • SOS Mobile Outreach has expanded to include new sites – Chesley Baptist Church (May 26th, 12-4) and Stonetree. 


  • foodbrucegrey.com update: 16, 872 community meals in March 2022 represents the single highest number of meals provided since before the pandemic began. 
  • 17,941 lbs of food was diverted to meal programs and food banks; this is the highest monthly total ever by food organizations in Grey Bruce. 
  • 121,168 lbs (54 tons) of food was distributed by food banks since 1 Jan 2022 in Grey Bruce. More than 600 children benefited. 
  • 70,000+ hours were donated by volunteers from Jan 2020 – April 2022. The hours donated equals more than $1,900,000 (based on Volunteer.ca calculations). 
  • Community gardens are preparing for the 2022 growing season. In 2021, they generated, measured and distributed more than 44,000 lbs of produce.  
  • Food Thoughts: is a source for information on Food Banks, Community Meal Programs, Community Gardens, and good food information.


  • Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF) Phase 5 funding:  The Province has extended funding to assist agencies providing services to our most vulnerable populations to navigate through Covid 19 to the end of Dec 2023. The funds will be used to continue to fund current services and supports that address the negative impacts of Covid 19.  
  • Grey County received $878,000 to  support emergency shelter, stationary and mobile outreach support for mental health, Indigenous housing, community food programs, drop-in centres and rent arrears. 
  • M’Wikwedong Indigenous Housing Support Program: total 86 households being supported;  average 100 households quarterly being served. This quarter numbers were less due to staff capacity. 
    • total 35 youth being supported; is an increase from the last quarter of 16 youth.
    • 25 are single youth (29%), 6 youth-lead families (7%), 25 youth chronically homeless (71%),  16 youth w/severe mental health & addictions “unhouseable” (53%). 
    • Their Indigenous transition units are full.  
  • Youth By Name List: as of 26 Apr 2022
    • 42 active youth (9 under 18), 
    • 32 referred within Grey County; 10 referred within Bruce County
    • 13 self-identified as Indigenous
    • 7 reported sleeping outside most frequently
    • 31 chronically homeless 
    • 4 identified as being trafficked or at risk of being trafficked
  • Acuity Assessment
    • High (7-10): 13 youth
    • Mid (4-6): 7  youth
    • Low (0-4): 18 youth
    • No Assessment Completed: 4 youth
  • By Name List Update:  as of April 21st 2022
    • 173 active individuals/families
    • 50 individuals/families self-identified as Indigenous:
    • 137 individuals/families active and presenting in Grey County at time of referral
    • 32 individuals/families active and presenting in Bruce County at time of referral
    • 5 individuals/families housed in Mar 2022 and 6 as of 21 Apr 2022.
  • Acuity Assessment:
    • High (8-10): 18 Individuals Families
    • Mid (4-7): 62 Individuals/Families
    • Low (0-3): 65 Individuals/Families
    • No Assessment Completed: 28 Individuals/Families
  • Unsheltered By Names List update: as of 26 Apr 2022
    • 50 active households listed as unsheltered/sleeping rough most frequently
    • 7 unsheltered youth (0 under 18)
    • 44 unsheltered and chronically homeless 
    • 14 unsheltered and identified as Indigenous
    • 1 unsheltered in Bruce County
    • 49 unsheltered in Grey County
  • Acuity of those sleeping rough:
    • High (7-10): 18 Individuals Families
    • Mid (4-6): 18 Individuals/Families
    • Low (0-3): 10 Individuals/Families
    • No Assessment Completed: 4 Individuals/Families


  • Winter Disconnect Ban: ends April 30th. Residential customers are protected from electricity and gas service disconnections for non-payment from November 15 to April 30. Contact 211 to access the following support programs in Grey Bruce: 
    • Ontario Electricity Support Program – Reduces electricity bills by providing eligible low-income customers with a monthly on-bill credit generally ranging from $35 to $75, depending on household income and size to reduce bills going forward. 
    • Low-income Energy Assistance Program – This year, eligible low-income customers who are in arrears may receive a one-time grant towards their electricity and gas bills, up to an annual maximum of $1,000 (up to $1,200 for homes that are electrically heated. 
    • Special Rules for Low Income Earners – Distributors must follow special rules when dealing with low-income customers; for example, waiving security deposits and allowing longer payment times under arrears payment. 


  • Grey Bruce Youth Film Festival: submissions due May 13, 2022 (students in Grades 7-12). Youth are invited to submit short films up to 10 minutes in length to be screened at the Galaxy Cinemas (COVID permitting) in Owen Sound as part of the Grey Bruce Youth Film Festival. For complete rules, please contact Nadia Danyluk at ndanyluk@library.osngupl.ca

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 71

Dear Colleagues

The province has announced it will require people to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination status to access certain businesses and settings starting September 22, 2021. The province has published a Frequently Asked Questions page.

All Ontarians who registered their vaccines are encouraged to download their vaccine receipt or print their vaccine receipt from the provincial booking portal, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 as proof of their vaccine status until an enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code is available.

  • Ontarians will be required to show their vaccine receipt when entering designated settings along with another piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s licence or health card. 
  • These mandatory requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies, etc.  
  • The province is working to establish a process to prove vaccination status for people with no email, health card or ID, as well as support the implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities.
  • Ontario will support the implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities whether or not they have opted to enter their data into COVax, while maintaining Indigenous data governance, control, access and possession principles.

Many concerns have been raised around ways to ensure people who are transient or homeless will not be discriminated against. 

  • In Quebec, the province says homeless people will be exempt from the requirement to present a vaccination passport to access restaurant dining rooms and patios, as well as food courts in shopping malls, for example. However, it’s not clear how people will prove they are homeless. 
  • Several articles have been written on respecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness and challenges with living on the streets. In BC, they are also raising the issue of access to vaccine passports for people who are homeless and how this will make life more difficult. 

In Grey and Bruce County, agencies have supported people to get vaccinated and are supporting the printing out vaccine receipts. As we move forward with an Ontario Vaccine Passport, please consider how this affects the most vulnerable people that we support in our communities. 


  • The Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health is recommending that local employers develop a workplace vaccination policy to protect their workers and the public from COVID-19. A workplace vaccination policy will identify the organizational expectations with regards to COVID-19 immunization of employees. The Health Unit has posted some recommendations and policy templates: http://ow.ly/bGs350G3anC 
  • The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has shared the Vax Pass Tenets to assist businesses to develop an employee vaccination policy. https://occ.ca/wp-content/uploads/OCC-Vax-Pass-Tenets.pdf 
  • The Region of Peel has announced a new employee vaccination policy.  All Regional employees are to disclose and provide documentation of their COVID-19 vaccination status. Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to complete educational programming about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination. They will also need to provide regular negative COVID tests.


  • Poverty Task Force meeting: on Friday, September 17th we shall be taking a health equity lens to the work we do. The meeting is entitled “Talking health equity: moving from response to recovery: Dr. Rim Zayed, Grey Bruce Health Unit will start off our conversation. We have also invited Federal Candidates to join us. 
  • Temporary Sick Leave: Ontario has announced it will extend a temporary sick leave program for workers at the end of December 2021.Since April 2021, the province provides 3 paid days of sick leave to accommodate self-isolation requirements during the pandemic, reimbursing employers up to $200 per day for what they pay out.
  • Virtual urgent care services: under the pandemic the development of virtual hospital Emergency Rooms is something that might become a permanent tool for our local hospitals. While not in place now, discussions are underway on how to use them effectively at Grey Bruce Health Services. 
  • Virtual UrgentCareOntario.ca: several regional hospitals announced they are partnering in a joint pilot initiative to offer virtual urgent care services to residents of southwestern Ontario. This service offers patients located outside these hospital communities the opportunity to access urgent care without leaving home.


  • YWCA Canada and YMCA Canada have embarked on a new project focused on responding to the impact of the pandemic on youth. Preventing a lockdown generation Report, 2021 outlines challenges faced by youth, ages 18 to 30 years old, in light of the pandemic, and proposes policy responses to ensure youth recover and are resilient in the face of future crises. 


  • YMCA Grey Bruce Emergency shelter: From April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021, the program has assisted more than 800 instances of emergency shelter for a total of 8,029 nights of emergency shelter. (Compared to 2019-2020 fiscal year with 2,731 nights of shelter). 
  • Grey Bruce By Names List has a total of 119 people who are experiencing homelessness. Of those, 56 are chronically homeless. 
  • The Social Services Relief Fund, Phase 3 still has remaining funds until December 2021. Organizations should contact Josh Gibson, Josh.Gibson@grey.ca or Tania Dickson, tdickson@brucecounty.on.ca


  • Feeding Families – Restaurant Relief initiative has now wrapped up. 75 donors gave a total of $52,000 to more than 40 local restaurants who made close to 3,500 meals that were delivered to OSHaRE. OSHaRE shared these out through their own community meal program as well as to other meal programs across Grey Bruce. 
  • Dozens of the meals were also a vital component in assisting with Covid outbreaks at a Hanover rooming house and on Saugeen First Nation when large groups of people were asked to quarantine for at least 2 weeks.  
  • Meals2Motels: 11,366 meals from April 2020 to July 2021 were delivered to people sheltering in motels. 
  • Future of Food: local growers, agri-food processors and food businesses are invited to join area partners on September 22nd, 10am-12noon for a collaborative presentation on the Future of Food.  The presentation is followed by an interactive networking session for participants. This event is designed to provide our local agriculture and food sector with the high-level information they need to plan post-COVID. This is a FREE event, but registration is required. Space is limited. To register, visit www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-future-of-food-registration-164022936017


  • Grey Bruce Newcomers Welcoming Week are hosting a week of celebrations to showcase diverse communities across Grey-Bruce, to foster an inclusive community and welcome newcomers. The first annual “Welcoming Week” will be from September 10 to 19, 2021.  Learn more at: News & Events | Grey Bruce Local Immigration Partnership .

Stay well, Jill