Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 21

Dear Colleagues, 

Be kind!” is the message coming from the Grey Bruce Health Unit this week as we move to Stage 3 of reopening and the mandatory use of masks.  I have attached a few new posters created by the Grey Bruce Health Unit Communications Team regarding masks. #strongertogetherGB

  • Concerned about what ‘reopening’ means for area charities and non-profits? Have questions? Want answers?  There will be a moderated Q & A call with Dr. Arra for Not-for-Profits and Charity organizations on July 28th, 1:30-3:00pm in which Dr. Arra.    
  • Please register here and ask your burning questions in advance!  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CWWGW3R

A morning smile is the announcement by the Ontario government of proposed  changes that would provide additional protection for payday loan borrowers by capping interest rates and fees on defaulted loans, ensuring that workers and families who use payday loan services can keep more of their hard-earned money. The changes were included in the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 and will be amendments to the Payday Loans Act, 2008. 

  • Lenders would not be permitted to charge interest in excess of 2.5 per cent per month (non-compounded), providing rate relief to borrowers unable to repay their loans on time.  
  • A maximum fee of $25 that may be charged by lenders for dishonoured or bounced cheques or pre-authorized debits.  


  • ODSP will send information about CERB reporting and how it will impact ODSP monthly payments to all ODSP recipients who reported CERB. Income from CERB is treated similarly to how earnings are treated under ODSP. The amount of the CERB that is deducted from ODSP depends on the situation of the person receiving it. For individuals under 18 or in full-time secondary or postsecondary school, CERB is fully exempt, meaning that it does not get deducted from ODSP payments. For everyone else, the CERB is partially exempt: The first $200 received in a month is fully exempt and a 50 per cent exemption will apply for each additional dollar, no matter the total amount of CERB payments collected.
  • ODSP Grey Bruce’s hours are changing: effective August 4, 2020, service delivery hours will return to regular hours of 8:30am-5:00pm, from the current hours of 10:00 am– 2:00pm. 
  • This is not a return to regular client services.  Existing health and safety measures related to COVID-19 continue to be followed. Clients will continue to be served via secure methods such as over the phone, via intercom and in secure rooms. They will limit the number of face to face interactions with clients to where it is necessary to ensure client service.
  • new report by Statistics Canada outlines how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted Indigenous respondents. 36% of Indigenous respondents reported that the pandemic had a “strong or moderate” impact on their ability to pay for essentials while 25% of non-indigenous respondents reported the same. Despite experiencing higher levels of hardship, fewer indigenous respondents reported applying for government support. 
  • Recent polling by the Native Women’s Association of Canada found that Indigenous women are experiencing greater financial difficulties (46%) than other Canadians (34%) and the financial impact of COVID-19 closely correlated to rates of domestic violence against Indigenous women.
  • The Senate Finance Committee urged the Federal Government to work with Provincial, Territorial, and Indigenous Governments to “give full, fair and priority consideration” to a Basic Income in their COVID-19 Relief in times of Crisis report.


  • A recent article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal takes an equity-informed perspective on emerging trends and interventions to reduce the impact of COVID on those experiencing homelessness. 

Recently, Tamarack hosted a cross-country rural communities and housing discussion and some of the highlights of the discussion were:

  • Funding – Emergency funding for sheltering people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic has demonstrated how quickly things can change when there is political will. Once funding for COVID-19 is gone, the solutions that were developed will likely not be sustainable. 
  • Short-term solutions – Many who were homeless prior to the pandemic are now being temporarily housed in hotels and motels. While there have been some benefits to this intervention, there is widespread recognition that this is a short-term solution and not permanent housing. There are concerns about long-term availability at motels/hotels as communities open up for tourism and concerns around how long government funding will last. 
  • Wrap around services – Food delivery programs, transportation assistance, internet and cell phone distribution, wellness checks, and mental health and addictions support have been an important element that has been coupled with housing responses during the pandemic. 
  • Housing supply – Lack of affordable housing stock in rural communities continues to be a major barrier in providing long-term solutions, even when funding is available for wrap around services such as mental health supports. 
  • Collaboration – Partnerships around housing and homelessness have improved since the onset of the pandemic. There is hope these new collaborations will be sustained into the future. 
  • Data – There is a need for more data to get an accurate picture of housing and homelessness in rural communities. Point-in-time counts prior to the pandemic may no longer be accurate. 
  • Recovery planning – Housing is not seen as a key focus of most COVID-19 recovery plans. Members are seeing plans being developed at provincial and federal levels rather than local or regional levels.

In Grey County and Bruce County, housing and homelessness remain important priorities.  A July 9th, 2020 report to Council reported on the County’s work, partnerships and next steps. The full report is attached. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 12

Dear Colleagues, 

Despite the COVID19 pandemic, many organizations continue to provide on-going services to children, youth and families across Grey Bruce.  Adapting to social distancing has meant the closure of physical buildings but staff have been reaching out to clients/customers through calls, text and video.  Many of our partners have moved online with virtual gatherings for children, youth and parents. We have listed some COVID19 Children/Youth Supports and Resources below. 

During this COVID19 pandemic, we are seeing an increase in people needing income, food, shelter and mental health support. It is a credit to our strong networks such as the Children’s Alliance, the Poverty Task Force, Healthy Community Partnership Table, GB Integrated Health Coalition and other tables that we are able to quickly coordinate a collective response.  

  • 211 Ontario has released its April 2020 Report on Unmet Needs this week.  The Top 3 Needs are: food access (26%), income support/employment assistance (14%) and health, including mental health & addictions (13%).   
  • Since March 19th, the YMCA Housing has housed 121 households for 784 nights of shelter. 30% have been re-housed. 
  • 256 meals were delivered in 1 week to 2 motels in Grey County in a YMCA partnership between OSHaRE, Habitat and United Way funded by Grey County.   
  • We have seen close to 300% increase in community meals served across Grey Bruce. 


  • #HeretoHelpGB involves many partners supporting children, youth and parents in crisis.  If you or someone you know is in an abusive or vulnerable situation, call 2-1-1, or 1-800-668-6868 @KidsHelpPhone or 9-1-1 in an emergency. 
  • The YMCA is offering Youth Virtual Workshops on Social Distancing group sessions on May 8,11th and 22nd; or individual sessions can be booked. Call/text:519-373-1016 or email: jessica.currie@osgb.ymca.ca  
  • The YMCA Community Services programs – employment, youth housing and justice – have gone online and support services are offered via telephone/virtual meetings.
  • Vpi Working Solutions – employment and youth supports – have gone to online services offered via telephone/virtual meetings. Website vpi‑inc.com. Youth Job Connect stating June 1st. for youth between the ages of 15-29. Call for more details 519-881-4900  
  • Bruce County Children’s Services is piloting the initial phase of its Emergency Childcare Program for hospital staff with the South Grey Bruce Health Centre.   Emergency childcare allows eligible health care and other front-line workers to have the childcare support they need to continue protecting the health and wellbeing of Bruce County residents during this COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • Bruce Grey Child & Family Services has also been working to meet a demand for thermometers for families and has seconded staff to work on the coordination of health & hygiene kits to seniors and children in partnership with the United Way of Bruce Grey.   
  • The United Way of Bruce Grey is managing a Pandemic Fund and funding community food programs, housing & homelessness and transportation services.  They are funding and coordinating the distributions of health & hygiene kits/gift cards to school children via the Grey Bruce Student Nutrition Program.  
  • Keystone continues to provide support digitically or via telephone to existing families and is taking new referrals. Contact at: 519-371-4773. in partnership with Martin Bus Lines and The Rocking Horse is distributing toys to isolated children through a referral system in a Partnership for Kids
  • While the doors are closed at the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Library their Facebook page daily provides online interaction such as Toddler Story Time, Tea & Title book club, and have moved their services online. 
  • The Bruce County Library also provides online resources on their Facebook page and is organizing Youth Trivia Nights and other social interactions. 

COVID19 Children/Youth/Family Resources:

  • The Poverty Task Force has a COVID19 COVID19 Community Resource Page which provides Food, Housing, Income & Employment and Transportation support services, Public Health related guidelines/policies and references for working with vulnerable populations. We send out a 2-3 Community Updates weekly. Please contact Jill Umbach to be added to the mailing list. 
  • OMSSA Today has the latest news, policy updates and resources on the human services sector in Ontario. Their COVID19 Resources Page is updated daily if you join as a member or you subscribe to their newsletter.      

Kids and Us Community Childcare & Family Education has a Parent Resource Page.   

A few resources: 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update #5

Dear Colleagues, 

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force/United Way of Bruce Grey has been sending out updates over the last 2 weeks – sharing out Grey Bruce partner updates and resources. Our Community Updates #1-4 have focused on Food Supports, Housing Supports, Youth and Mental Health Supports, etc. Relevant resources and Public Health guidelines are shared as links or posted on our COVID19 Community Resources page. All information in our lists are shared with 211.  Please continue to share your updated COVID 19 services with 211.

There are daily new announcements of layoffs and for many people there is a lot of uncertainty around their jobs and paychecks.   So in this Community Update we have pulled together a list of income & employment supports offered by partners.   



Our incredible Community Food Banks and Meal Programs are continuing to provide incredible support to our communities! 

  • We continue to work with Community Food Banks and Meal Programs to support their operations.We update the Grey Bruce Community Food Program Listregularly. 
  • Many of the Good Food Boxes are closed due to their locations being closed.    
  • GB Public Health has developed Guidelines for Grocery Shopping.  And the Grey Bruce Grocery Store List is updated regularly.  Please note that Easter holidays are coming up and store hours will change. 
  • A Community Voices member is currently creating a Grey Bruce Pet Food List. 
  • Rapid Needs Survey was carried out by the United Way of Bruce Grey with Food Banks/Community Meal programs resulting in requests for a variety of food and non-food items.  
  • The United Way Food Bank fund has started to respond to requests. Initially, purchasing bulk items that can be distributed across multiple organizations.  For example, a bulk purchase of toilet paper was distributed by Habitat of Humanity trucks to Food Banks.  


Partners continue to provide homelessness and housing support in our communities.  

  • A recent Housing meeting hosted by GB Public Health identified challenges and concerns with COVID19 education for people. Identifying clients who are high risk or acute. Concerns were raised around mental health & addiction and women fleeing violence. Social distancing does not work with people who don’t have a place to stay home in. 
  • Bruce and Grey County housing have ramped up their cleaning services and increased social distancing education. 
  • The Housing sector is waiting to hear about Homelessness Prevention funding from the government. 
  • Seniors’ Dental Program is on hold except for emergency services. 
  • We continue to update the Grey Bruce Housing Support List



  • Partnership for Kids is about to be up-and-running. Paul Wiley of Martin’s School Transit has a GoFundMe page to purchase toys from The Rocking Horse and deliver to famlies through the The Scenic City of Good Cheer volunteers. Referrals will be accepted only through social agencies/food banks and sent to Keystone. Public Health has recommended that only new toys go to families and not used donations.

Stay well from the team at Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force/United Way of Bruce Grey