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 

Tranquil, sure. But Ontario’s rural communities take a hit as factories close in nearby larger centres

Debora Van Brenk, QMI Agency

Sunday, October 20, 2013 6:00:00 EDT AM

FLORENCE, ONT. – It’s high noon on an autumn day and the loudest sounds are the ratcheting of crickets and the occasional call of an in-town rooster crowing out of time.

A shiny new playground and a community hall sit in the middle of Florence, empty this time of day, and there’s a road so freshly paved the centre line isn’t yet laid down.

Florence — part of the southwestern Ontario township of Dawn-Euphemia, where Middlesex, Kent and Lambton counties meet — is at the intersection of everything, but far from the centre of the universe.

Once within buggy distance of eight schools and home to a tractor dealership and other amenities, the township has lost 17% of its small population in the past decade.

“Welcome to Hooterville,” seed dealer-farmer Emery Huszka quips.

But it’s clear he’s convinced this place is Canada’s heartland — not its hinterland: High-speed Internet, clean water, resourceful workforce, close to major centres, helpful neighbours. And all the tranquility a body needs.

That’s why it troubles him the hamlet where he lives and works is — like many rural Ontario communities — shrinking. The statistics of the migration are mere numbers to some, but to him are the 360 faces of his friends.

“One factory in a city like Mississauga is just a blip. One factory here, if it closes, is the difference between getting your mortgage paid or not,” Huszka says.

And he knows this first-hand, having been on the receiving end of more than one factory closing where he worked.

In this area, deep in the heart of one of the nation’s richest farm belts, but with manufacturing cities nearby, the closing of a Navistar truck plant and the loss of thousands of other industrial jobs have cost the community dearly.

“The rural communities are more economical to live in, provided you don’t have to drive 40 miles to your job,” says Dawn-Euphemia Mayor Bill Bilton, who was born and raised in the township and has been its reeve or mayor, and always its biggest booster, for 30 years.

Out here, you can grow your own gardens, canoe on the river, borrow a library book, buy lumber and know everyone by name, occupation and lineage. Out here you can get your milk, mail, meal and movies at one location.

But what you can’t do in Florence is attend school (the decrepit high school has been for sale, now listed at $17,500, almost since it closed down in 1965), be doctored (the lone physician moved out years ago) or buy much more than the essentials.

“If there are no jobs, there are no young families — it’s that simple,” Bilton notes.

That’s a trend echoed across the province, including in Elizabethtown-Kitley stretching between the borders of Brockville and Smiths Falls in Eastern Ontario.

Plant closings in both cities have squeezed out rural residents who lived in the country but worked in the city, says Mayor Jim Pickard. “When jobs start drying up, people start to move … One thing you cannot fight is job losses and aging.”

Teens leave for college and don’t come back. Couples lose jobs and pack out. Older people move to where the health care is.

“I’m sure we’re reflective of so many other municipalities,” Pickard says. “There’s no one thing to put your finger on.”

To be sure, not all rural communities are faltering.

Nearer to major centres — to the GTA and Ottawa, for example — so many people are clamouring to live in the countryside many hamlets have grown into full-fledged towns. In those areas with double-digit annual growth (Whitchurch-Stouffville’s population has ballooned 54% in five years), politicians rightly struggle to pave roads, build clinics and schools to transport, heal and educate everyone.

But in a province that’s grown an average 5% during the past five years, to show neither population gain nor loss is to fall behind.

“If I had the magic solution, I’d bottle it and sell it and it would cost you a lot of money,” Pickard says.

Some trends aren’t reversible, such as smaller families and larger, more mechanized farms that mean fewer people need to work the land.

But Huszka, for one, believes the exodus has bottomed out. Technology is allowing more people to telecommute. And land affordability in a hamlet, even with gas prices factored into the commute, make it an affordable choice.

He holds out hope agricultural diversification and sound economic policy can reap ten-fold returns on a modest investment: a beet processor nearby or a biofuels plant, for example.

Adding just 25 couples — 50 people — could revive church suppers, bring in more taxes, fill a day-care centre. Revive the heart of Ontario.

“It wouldn’t take a lot to make a big difference here,” he says.




2006 to 2011:

— Canada’s population grew 5.9%

— Ontario’s population grew 5.7%


Examples, 2006 to 2011:

Dawn-Euphemia: -6.4%

Dorion: -10.8%

Dawson: -9.2%

Elizabethtown-Kitley: -4.7%

Southwold: -4.9%

Hamilton: -2.5%

Lambton Shores: -4.4%

Marathon: -13.2%

Enniskillen: -6.1%


Examples, 2006 to 2011:

Oakville: 10.2%

Ottawa: 8.8%

Shelburne: 13.5%

Milton: 56.5%

Whitchurch-Stouffville: 54.3%

Vaughan: 20.7%

What went wrong with rural Ontario

Rural demography is about as tough to get a grip on as mutton-busting at the country fall fair.
And framing the reasons for rural population decline as either all good or all bad is just as slippery.
It’s a whole new landscape out there. The 19th-century farm is gone, for better and for worse. As the think-tank Rural Ontario Institute notes, non-metro Ontario had virtually no year-over-year population growth from 2006 to 2012.
So, while the issues itemized below look like a linear list, they’re more like the Venn diagrams you drew in elementary school, with interlooping circles of influence and infinity-echoing patterns of cause-and-effect.

Cows virtually milk themselves now and house-sized combines harvest corn. There’s more need for knowledge and less for people on today’s larger, more technologically advanced farms. Young would-be farmers have a tough time coming up with money to enter the business.

Good roads go both ways. But for rural communities, they’re often outbound to enrich big-town coffers, where a 20-minute drive and $20 gets you a burger and a movie. A lot of the money that could help small centres grow flows into larger ones.

Rural routes are littered with old schools converted to houses or storage sheds. Populations shrink and schools close, leading more families to leave and fewer to move in if there are no schools.

So many rural people have jobs in cities that an economic downturn in industry makes country living financially impossible. And if the only job they can find is minimum wage, they’re not going to commute two hours a day for that.

Older rural residents often resist moving to town — but as their health fails, they often have to move out to be closer to health clinics.


Most immigrants go to cities, drawn by a similar population or language. One saving grace? Western European farmers with plenty of money and large families are rebuilding some rural economies.

Some rural places still lack high-speed Internet. Try studying, shopping or just surfing without that. Conversely, rural entrepreneurs with high-speed Internet can stay put, with access to markets worldwide.

They dwindle as hamlets wane. The service club or church may close. The softball league becomes a single team, then strikes out altogether.

How to keep rural Ontario thriving

In one Ontario hamlet, where school enrolment was falling, boosters decided to reverse the flow.
Instead of busing their kids to city schools, they held up the smaller rural school as an example of educational excellence — then, city kids started busing to the country for school.
Promoting small-town amenities to cities is among the revitalization strategies Bill Reimer likes to cite when talking with struggling rural areas.
Reimer, a professor at Concordia University, is one of North America’s foremost experts on rural economies.
His six broad suggestions for helping rural areas reassert their importance:

Look beyond your community:
In one Western Canadian town, it was pumping up the local hockey program so that now the hockey school is sought out beyond the region.

Find and exploit your niche:
Maybe it’s a social event or a cultural landmark or maybe an idea that’s unique to that area. Stratford has made that work with world-class theatre.

Integrate strangers:
Create a rural welcome wagon of sorts, and make sure newcomers know where to find social supports.

Build social infrastructure.
Book clubs, church communities, little league baseball teams — and make them too good to ignore.

Build capacities and links:
Labour should connect with charity and recreation and so on, to make it a better place.

Think regionally.
There’s a huge power differential between small and large communities; independence is often a catchphrase of rural life, but interdependence should be more important. When their main products, such as food or raw resources come from the rural areas, urban areas are defeating their own self-interest to ignore or downplay the economic, lifestyle and environmental benefits they get from rural areas. “It is in the interests of urban people to figure out how to support their smaller communties,” Reimer said.


Ontario Crown wards will receive free postsecondary tuition


The Globe and Mail, Wednesday, Jun. 26 2013

Ontario is expanding funding to help former Crown wards and youth in care earn a postsecondary education, promising free tuition and help with living expenses at any of the province’s universities or one of several colleges.

Under new and expanded partnerships, students who have been under the legal care of the province and are eligible for student aid can have up to $6,000 in tuition fees covered for each of four years, and also receive $500 monthly to help with living expenses. This support will now be available until age 24, having previously stopped at 21, and about 850 students are expected to qualify, starting in September.

Similar programs were piloted at eight universities and three colleges last year in an effort to lower some of the special barriers that have often seen these students struggle in school. But all of Ontario’s 21 universities are now on board, sharing half the cost of each student’s tuition, while eight of the province’s 24 colleges have also signed on.

“I sincerely hope that next year, all of our public colleges will join us,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities for Ontario, at an announcement Tuesday.

Vera Williams, 25, is now a student at the University of Toronto’s Woodsworth College and a member of the province’s Youth Leaving Care Working Group, but she remembers how hard she found it paying for school after she left care. Once she turned 21, the financial supports and connections with agencies ended, and she dropped out of university in her second year feeling it had grown too expensive, even as she worked retail jobs to pay her way.

Had the new, expanded supports been in place at the time, “I wouldn’t have had to drop out, for sure,” said Ms. Williams, who has since re-enrolled.

Similar supports for youth leaving care have already been set up elsewhere in Canada. Last fall, the University of Winnipeg waived tuition fees for 25 students who had grown up in the child welfare system.

Ontario currently has about 8,300 crown wards. But only 44 per cent of the province’s youth in care graduate from high school, compared with 82 per cent of Ontario youth as a whole.