Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 65

Dear Colleagues, 

Even before the pandemic hit, homelessness was known to take up to 25 years off a person’s life. Now, life has become even more precarious for those experiencing homelessness and a lack of housing options.  

Considered among the most vulnerable to the virus, people who are experiencing homelessness are 20 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, 10 times more likely to receive intensive care, and more than 5 times more likely to die within 21 days of a positive test. (ICES & Lawson Health Research Institute, 2021)

A housing crisis, opioid crisis and the new Delta virus variant means people are living in very dangerous conditions. Thank you to all partners that are working to improve isolation conditions for people and to save lives.  


More than ever, please ensure that your teams are following all of the public health COVID 19 protection procedures.   

  • Safe N Sound: will be limiting service due to recent covid exposures. Their hours will remain in effect from 9:00am to 3:30pm, but will be curbside to hand out needed supplies, food or basic necessities. 
  • By-name List (as of 17 June 2021)
    • 84 homeless/49 chronically homeless 
    • 11 housed by agencies
    • 2 left the area (no contact in 90 days)
  • Indigneous Housing Support Program (as of 17 June 2021) 
    • 100 households, 144 individuals
    • 80 homeless/51 chronically homeless
    • 35 precariously housed
    • 11 elders/51 youth
    • 16 leaving institutions
  • Tiny Homes South Bruce PeninsulaCouncil has approved a town-initiated zoning bylaw amendment that includes eliminating minimum gross floor area requirements for homes beyond what’s set out in Ontario’s Building Code.
  • The City of Owen Sound has released an Housing Affordability Discussion Paper as part of its Official Plan. 
  • Recovery for All has launched its VOTE HOUSING campaign which advocates at the national level to increase investments in affordable housing and initiatives to address homelessness. 
  • Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) Annual Conference 2021 will be held on June 29, 2021, 3-5pm (via Zoom). This year’s conference will explore themes of energy equity, affordability and access. Registration is free, here
  • The Homeless Hub’s State of Systems Approaches Report explores how to prevent and end homelessness through an equitable, just and accountable framework of systems transformation.


We are deeply saddened to hear of another horrific discovery of 751 unmarked graves of children. Our thoughts are with the Cowessess First Nation and all First Nation peoples of Saskatchewan and across Canada. #everychildmatters

  • A Day to Listen the Downie Wenjack Fund is hosting a series of stories, music and events to amplify Indigenous voices on June 30th. #dosomething 
  • M’Wikwedong IFC is offering a series of Youth Housing Workshops. Contact Rachel Paterson to register or for more info. ishp@mwikwedong.com


  • The Food Security Action Group will be meeting the Plan the Bruce team to give input into this Bruce County Strategic Plan.  Participate in an online survey at planthebruce.ca/communities to share your input.    
  • The Community Safety and Well Being Plan has been fully endorsed and released. Work begins now on assessment of Action Tables and the creation of county level and municipal action plans. 


  • National Guaranteed Basic Income Bill C-273 entered Second Reading on June 14th.  This is the first of 2 rounds of debate before the bill goes to a vote.  MPs from multiple parties debated the bill, most showing support and some raising questions about how to do it. 
  • The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business released a study this week which shows Indigenous companies needed more financial help during the pandemic, but many struggled to find relief.
    • The survey of 825 Indigenous businesses found 72% wanted more financial support and 44% didn’t think they could operate until July without aid. 
    • More than half, who were surveyed between Dec. 18, 2020 and Fed. 1, 2021, and who needed assistance, applied for at least one government relief program.
    • 52% qualified, but 1/4 of those had difficulty meeting application criteria and almost half said financial requirements were a barrier to accessing aid.
    • NACCA’s Indigenous Business Stabilization Program has been extended to June 30th, 2021.
  • 2021 Financial Planner Canada Financial Stress Index was released. 
    • Amid the pandemic, nearly 2-in-5 of Canadians (38%) say money is their #1 source of stress, more so than personal health (26%), work (20%), or relationships (15%).
    • More than half (51%) of Canadians have lost sleep over money concerns
    • 1/3 (31%) say financial stress has caused health issues – an increase from 18% last year.
    • Nearly 1/2 (45%) say the COVID-19 pandemic has directly impacted their financial stress level. 


  • Feeding Families – Restaurant Relief more than 70 donors (businesses, groups and individuals) gave $45,000 to 40 local restaurants who’ve made more than 3,000 meals for OSHaRE. This was the total as of June 17th but we expect it to be higher with the final totals. The relief effort has come to an end as restaurants focus on re-opening their businesses. However, OSHaRE continues to provide meals daily and you can make direct donations.


  • City of Owen Sound Public Transit:  is completing a Transit Study and would like your participation in the survey.   Complete the survey and also forward to clients and families who may have an interest in having their voice heard. There are virtual stakeholder and public engagement meetings planned in June and August. Please go to the site to register. 

Stay well, Jill  

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 6

Dear Colleagues, 

I hope that this email finds you well! 

As we come to the end of week 3 of social isolation we want to thank all of you for the tremendous work that is going on with each of your respective organizations! 

Members continue to feed more people than normal and find permanent housing for more people during this COVID-19 Pandemic.  We thank all our members who have shifted their work from health equity, food security or income security advocacy to taking up roles as nurses and long-term care front line staff.  This is an amazing emergency response by all. 

We continue to update our lists of food, housing, income & employment supports at: https://povertytaskforce.com/covid-19-community-resources/

OMSSA Today Newsletter is out with news, policy updates and resources that matter to social services. 


  • Many of us have switched to Zoom to carry out staff meetings and to stay in touch with friends/families. Zoom Healthcare is also available which has PIPEDA and PHIPA compliance for confidential meetings with clients. 
  • The YMCA Employment program is reaching out to clients via video live feeds on Facebook. It is great to see the faces of their staff reaching out to clients and being available for Facebook Live questions and answers
  • Rentsafe has released its video Housing Issues? We’re Here to Help on available Housing Supports in Grey Bruce. 
  • Rogers offers $9.99 internet to low income housing organization tenants. Are PTF members aware of any new deals? 


  • Community Gardens have been a discussion amongst many Food Security Action Group partners.  The government has come out with a ban on the Gardens so some organizations are discussing household gardens and seed distribution. GB Public Health has released Guidelines on Gardeners. 
  • Sustain Ontario is facilitating an open letter—for any organization in the province to support—that identifies Community Gardens as essential community food services.
  • Community Meal programs continue to distribute food. Many have increased their numbers. Chesley Baptist Church opened up this week for a weekly lunch-to-go meal program (12noon-1pm). Numbers doubled in the number of people served. 
  • FoodRescue.ca has announced funding available for members and non-members who are not already accessing funding through Feed Ontario or The Salvation Army.  Food Banks who 1) are existing members can apply directly, 2) non-members can join FoodRescue.ca or 3) non-members can apply without becoming members. Any questions can be answered at: emergencyfund@secondharvest.ca 
  • United Way Pandemic Fund and Food Security Fund: Food banks and food programs were invited to highlight funding requests to address unmet program needs. 22% of the funds have been directed to food banks, 18% to community meal programs, 16% went to toilet paper for distribution through the food banks and 15% is being held for the community meal programs for April and May needs.
  • The United Way was able to source bulk purchases of items directly from suppliers. This is important to reduce volunteers/staff having to shop frequently at grocery stores.  Habitat for Humanity is providing delivery services. For more info contact Francesca Dobbyn execdir@unitedwaybg.com 


  • The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has launched BounceBack® . It is designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. Delivered free, over the phone with a coach and through online videos, you will get access to tools that will support you on your path to mental wellness. 
  • The Province has announced one time funding for families of children age 0-12 and children/youth with autism. 
  • There is a correction to the Bruce County Children’s Services’ number on the Bruce County Human Services COVID-19 Response poster. 
  • The United Way is already planning for children’s return to school and its 2020 Backpack Program. If your organization would like to submit requests for build backpacks please contact Sarah at: backpacks@unitedwaybg.com.  If you anticipate an increased need please let the United Way know so they can prepare for the Fall.   


  • Weekly Housing Action Group meetings are being held to coordinate emergency needs. The YMCA Housing reports that since mid-March they have sheltered 64 households. Of those, 23 households have found permanent housing and 2 in transitional housing.
  • Ontario Housing Benefit will be starting to roll out for affordable housing. 
  • Bruce County and Grey County Housing received notice last week from Municipal Affairs/Housing that they will be receiving funding
    from Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) to flow funds for COVID -19 response. It will allow support for seniors, food, and other emergency needs. The Counties are currently undertaking a rapid needs analysis. 

Stay well,  Jill Umbach