Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update #118

Dear Colleagues, 

National Indigenous History Month invited us to reflect on the unique connections and relationships Indigenous people and their ancestors have and have had with this land for thousands of years and countless generations.  Many people partners gathered on June 21st to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  We shall continue to celebrate Indigenous-led initiatives changing systems. 

Pride Month may be coming to a close, but our commitment to supporting and uplifting the 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ community remains as strong as ever! While the month saw many parades, flags flying and pride celebrations in many communities across Grey Bruce, we also saw hatred and intolerance in reaction to these events.  Grey Bruce households flying pride flag targeted by hate mail. | Ontario Morning from CBC Radio with Ramraajh Sharvendiran | Live Radio | CBC Listen

There is much more work to be done to advocate for diversity and inclusion in our communities; and we call on our local governments to take a stronger stand against hate and discrimination. 

  • Grey Bruce Pride is petitioning local government to develop more Anti-Hate and Anti-Oppression Response Policies and Proactive Prevention Policies within Grey Bruce. Petition · Immediate Anti-Hate and Anti-Oppression Response Policies Required within Grey Bruce · Change.org
  • Beth Ezekiel Synagogue call on local governments to take a strong stand against hate and discrimination in every form: to increase engagement with all targeted groups, to support meaningful public education programs and, to draft policies that ensure our friends and neighbours live safe, secure, and peaceful lives in Grey/Bruce. 

Bruce County Strategic Plan has been released with a pillar focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Bruce County: Strategic Plan 2023-2026


  • Grocery Rebate: the one-time payment to support low- and modest-income Canadians and families was issued on July 5th, 2023.  It can be up to an extra $467 for eligible couples with two children; up to an extra $234 for single Canadians without children; and an extra $225 for seniors, on average. Canadians to receive grocery rebate this week. Here’s when? (citynews.ca)
  • Free Income Tax Clinics: July is the first month where taxpayers receive their eligible payments if they filed their taxes on time. If you work with low-modest income individuals or newcomers, July is a great month to provide information on benefits and credits available to them. This allows the individuals to ensure that they are receiving all benefits and credits where they meet the eligibility conditions and serves as a reminder to file their taxes as early as possible if they have missed the deadline of April 30, 2023.  Find a service at:  freetaxclinics.ca  
  • Canada Disability Benefit Act (Bill C-22): was passed by Parliament on June 22nd which proposes to create a federal income supplement for low-income, working-age people with disabilities, modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Summary of the proposed Bill C-22: The Canada Disability Benefit Act – Canada.ca
  • CERB Impact Study:  Policy Alternatives has concluded that CERB was a positive experience for recipients, providing stability during a global crisis: 70% of respondents said CERB had a positive impact on their household financial situation.  But CERB was more than an income support: 67% said it helped them deal with the stress of the pandemic, 60% said it allowed them to take care of ill family members and 49% said it helped them re-enter the job market. CERB_Final_June 12, 2023.pdf (policyalternatives.ca)
  • Grey Bruce Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Network: a gathering of Volunteer Coordinators, volunteers, social agencies and government representatives will take place on September 14th. See poster for more details. For those involved in the program, please register for this free event at: http://bit.ly/3CTANjv


  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce: released a brief concluding that it is critical to build the right types and mix of housing, including purpose-built rentals, missing middle, student, non-profit, cooperative and supportive housing. Home Stretched: Tackling Ontario’s Housing Affordability Crisis Through Innovative Solutions and Partnerships (occ.ca)
  • Grey County Homelessness & Transitional Housing System Enhancement Plan: In Grey County, costs related to short term shelter of individuals and families have risen sharply since 2018 and the need continues to rise. A new report outlines the cost of the program, ongoing budget needs, barriers to the existing system, gaps and complexities as we move into the summer and plan for the winter season. 
  • Grey Bruce Coordinated Access/By Names List: as of May 31st, 117 households are on the list, 100 experiencing chronic homelessness. 63 households have moved off the list since November 2022. We have been designated a Built for Zero CommunityBuilt For Zero Canada – Community Map (bfzcanada.ca)




  • Grey Transit Route:  Owen Sound, Wiarton and Sauble is running 4 times daily 7 days/week for the summer. Find schedules and pre-book your seat at www.greytransitroute.com or call 226-910-1001 for more information. Free transit on weekends for many routes!


Stay well,  Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 117

Dear Colleagues, 

Food inflation is rising at 9.7% right now.  There has been a 43% increase of food bank visits in Ontario and 1 in 4 children are living in a food insecure home (Stats Can 2021). 

The United Way of Bruce Grey works with community food programs to collect local data on Food Bruce Grey

  • Usage is not going down after the pandemic but increasing. Local food banks have reported the fastest growing population attending food banks are people who are employed. 
  • Meaford Food Bank reported, in the first quarter of 2023, food bank usage has increased by 47% compared to the same quarter last year. The pounds of food distributed has increased by 56%, and the number of first time users of the food bank has increased 200%. 

We know that food banks are a last resort. A recent TVO debate spoke to our social safety net being outsourced to food banks. 

We know that the Federal Funding for a National School Lunch Program was not in the 2023 budget.  We know that schools are one conduit for food support to students and their families. 

  • Across Canada, school food programs are speaking about their struggles to make ends meet right now. With the high price of food, it’s costing some programs as much as 25%  more than previous years to keep running. And they’re seeing higher demand too – more children in need of a balanced meal.

We are concerned that this summer food banks and schools shall need to continue to support families. While support is provided for basic food needs, we need to advocate for “transformational change” that invests in income security such as a basic income. 


  • Basic Income:  Bill S-233 has been sent to the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. The next step is to encourage our elected representatives to follow the example of the Senate. 
  • Follow the progress of Bill S-233 – the National Framework for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income Act – HERE
  • Click on this link to add to the UBIWorks.ca petition and send an email to your MP.  
  • End of Life Guide: the United Way of Bruce Grey has updated this financial  guidebook for people with low income planning for end of life expenditures.  
  • Grocery Rebate: a one-time payment was announced by the Federal government under Bill C-46, the Cost of Living Act. The rebate will be issued automatically by CRA to households with an income of $38,000 or less, and individuals who make $32,000 or less. 
  • There is no need to apply for the grocery rebate. It will be delivered along with the July GST Credit payment. To receive the payment it is required that recipients have filed their 2021 tax return. 
  • The rebate will be up to $467 for eligible couples with two children, $234 for single Canadians without children, and $225 for seniors.


Grey County SOS Mobile Outreach team: recently presented to Grey County council on health equity challenges they have seen working with people experiencing homelessness: 

  • Identification: obtaining or maintaining government-issued identification is a challenge which has an impact on those attempting to receive healthcare services. 
  • Insurance: during COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health established temporary funding for healthcare providers to treat those without coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). 
  • This program improved health outcomes and reduced financial hardship or barriers to healthcare for those without insurance or with lost or expired health cards in Ontario before the Ministry rescinded it as of April 1, 2023
  • The Ontario Medical Association has voiced its concern that ending this program without consultation or a better solution for Ontario’s uninsured would be detrimental to those in marginalized communities, such as people experiencing homelessness, those facing language barriers or mobility issues, or newcomers, migrant workers, and international students without coverage.
  • Call to Action: the Council of the County of Grey calls on the Ministry of Health to a) extend this program by the 6 months requested by the Ontario Medical Association to provide the opportunity for fulsome consultation with healthcare stakeholders; and b) utilize this program’s experience and insight to introduce a new policy that similarly reduces stigma and barriers for those without insurance to access Ontario healthcare and obtain or maintain a health card  


  • Grey Transit Route (GTR): has announced free weekend rides on all Grey Transit Route (GTR) buses from May 20th and until Sept. 3.
  • GTR travels between Owen Sound and Wiarton, Owen Sound and Orangeville and Owen Sound and The Blue Mountains.  It also partners with Shelburne to offer weekend service between Dundalk and Shelburne from April 29 to Jan. 28, 2024, and with South Bruce Peninsula and Bruce County to offer service to Sauble Beach from May 20 to Sept. 4, 2023.
  • Adult fares cost between $3 and $5. People are encouraged to book their rides by calling 1-226-910-1001 or book online. Walk-ons are permitted if there’s room.

Stay Well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 82

Dear Colleagues, 

We are going through the 5th wave of the pandemic with significant increases in cases in the last 4-5 weeks.  We are hopeful that we will see a reduction in cases soon in response to the current Modified Step Two public health measures.. Today the government announced new public health measures for the next few months, starting on 31 January, 21 February and 14 March 2022.   

In November 2021, the Poverty Task Force table discussed strategic plans for 2022. We examine the work we do to ensure we are addressing systemic change issues as well as meeting front line needs.  Our collective impact efforts support upstream interventions to address poverty-related community issues


  • Indigenous Housing Investment:  The Ontario government announced it is investing $10 million in new annual funding to provide Indigenous-led, culturally appropriate long-term housing solutions and support services to Indigenous people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
  • Homeless Enumeration Reports: Bruce County and Grey County released their respective reports from the point-in-time count.  
    • 142 individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Grey County
    • 64 individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Bruce County
  • In response, both Councils approved a local rule for housing priority to offer 1 in every 10 units to individuals or families from the Grey Bruce ‘By-Name List’. 
  • By-Name List Training: there is still space on Jan 25th, 2022 9AM-Noon,Jan 26th, 2022 9AM-Noon and Jan 28th, 2022 1PM-4PM. Email Caitlin at Caitlin.currie@grey.ca to sign up. 
  • YMCA Emergency Housing: in the first month of January, up to 500 nights of shelter were provided across Grey Bruce. This included coordinating with Safe N Sound to send people from Owen Sound to Hanover, Wiarton and Chatsworth to available hotels/motels.  
  • Home Takeover Project: is moving forward with partners. The next meeting will be on February 14th to develop an evaluation framework.
  • Seniors Home Safety Tax Credit is extended into 2022.  The credit covers renovations to help make seniors’ homes safer and more accessible. Twenty-five percent of up to a maximum of $10,000 per household can be claimed on eligible expenses.
  • Prime Minister’s Mandate Letter: directs the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, to help ensure Canadians can get a home of their own, through work to improve housing affordability and end chronic homelessness, and to champion the full breadth of our country’s vibrant diversity through greater inclusion. Read the details here.  


  • Municipal Transit Funding: The Ontario government announced it is providing $375.6 million to help 107 municipalities across the province operate and improve local transit. 
  • The funding is being delivered through the Gas Tax program and can be used to extend service hours, buy transit vehicles, add routes, improve accessibility or upgrade infrastructure. 
  • The Town of Hanover (the lead municipality for Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit, which serves Arran-Elderslie, Brockton, Chatsworth, Hanover, Huron-Kinloss, Kincardine, Saugeen Shores, Southgate and West Grey) is receiving $769,398, the Municipality of Meaford will receive $65,797 and the City of Owen Sound is receiving $251,642.


  • Guaranteed Livable Basic Income: a private member’s bill (Bill C-223) to develop a national framework for a permanent Guaranteed Livable Basic Income was introduced in December 2021. The Bill is in its second reading. UBI Works and Basic Income Network have Calls to Action to support the Bill. 
  • Canada Student Grants: full-time student, can receive grants up to $6,000 until July 31st, 2023. Students with disabilities can receive up to $10,000. The government has waived interest on federal student loans until March 31st, 2023. They are also being more flexible for repayment
  • Prime Ministers’ Mandate Letter: directs the Minister of Seniors to ensure GIS recipients who received CERB do not experience any negative impact to their GIS eligibility.
  • GIS Clawback: Payment to be made starting in May 2022 to all GIS recipients who lost GIS b/c of CERB. However, it is unclear whether this lump sum payment will be tax free. And whether seniors need to re-apply and complete a new GIS assessment. 
  • Old Age Security: there will be an increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement by $500 for single seniors and $750 for couples starting at age 65.
  • Prime Ministers’ Mandate Letter: directs the Minister of Finance to work with provinces and territories over the next review cycle to increase the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan survivor’s benefit by 25%. 
  • As well as introduce a one-time income tax deduction for health care professionals who are just starting out in their careers to help with the costs of setting up their practice in a rural community. 
  • And crack down on predatory lenders by lowering the criminal rate of interest. Read more here
  • Four County Labour Market Planning Board has released 2 new reports:


  • Kinoomaadziwin Education Body: Ontario government announced a renewed 3 year funding for the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body (KEB) $7.9 million agreement to support the achievement and well-being of Anishinabek students. 
  • The agreement will improve access to culturally relevant education supports and services Anishinabek students need to realize academic success and prepare for successful entry into the workforce.


  • Prime Ministers’ Mandate Letter: directs the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous partners and stakeholders to develop a National School Food Policy and to work toward a national school nutritious meal program. Read more here.
  • Food Bruce Grey Year End Data: data collected by the United Way for 2021 represents data from 86% of existing community food programs in Grey Bruce. Some December 2021 data is not included yet the following figures show the food insecurity in Grey Bruce: 
    • Meal Programs: 170,362 meals were served, 24% increase over 2020,  which translates into more than 460 meals each day. 
    • Food Rescue: 68,777 kg of food processed,67% increase over 2020, equivalent to 4,326 bags of groceries. 
    • Food Banks – 170,775kg of food distributed, 27% increase over 2020, equivalent to 10,740** bags of groceries.21,442 clients served – 10% increase over 2020. 
    • Fresh Produce: 18,156 kg worth of fresh produce grown, equivalent to 1,141 bags of groceries. 
    • Volunteer Hours: 36,046 hours provided by volunteers, 60% increase over 2020. Using the rate established by Volunteers.ca, that represents a payroll value of $973,242.   

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 81

Dear Colleagues, 

International Human Rights Day was on Friday, December 10th last week. The Day is a reminder that overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. (Nelson Mandela)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that each person is entitled to certain fundamental rights: the right to life; liberty; equality; and security. In Canada, we have also legislated the right to housing, food, income security and equity.

Taking a human rights approach to our work on poverty changes the way we work. It directs us to share a vision of what human dignity looks like for ourselves and our neighbours. This was a large part of a recent Vital Signs Conversation on Housing hosted by the Community Foundation of Grey Bruce on Thursday, Dec 9th. We do require a mind shift. Not, some people are lucky or deserving of a home, but all people “have a right to a home”. 


  • Emergency Housing over the holidays: Emergency phone line is open but Safe N Sound will be closed on Dec 25th, 27th and 28th. Contact 211 to verify the hours for housing service providers and other support organization.
  • Homelessness Coordinated Access System: has updated referral documents for the By Names List. Simcoe County has prepared 2 videos on What is a Coordinated Access System? and What is a By Names List? Contact Caitlin Currie, Homelessness Response Coordinator, Caitlin.Currie@grey.ca for what we are doing in Grey and Bruce Counties. 
  • Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario: tenants who have a Notice of Hearing from the Landlord and Tenant Board, can sign up to receive a call back from aTenant Duty Counsel in your area before your hearing.
  • The City of Owen Sound undertook a Citizen Satisfaction Survey in the summer of 2021  These findings form the starting point in the development of the advocacy priorities for 2022 and 2023. The top 5 advocacy priorities are: Affordable housing, cost of living, homelessness; COVID-19, Health including public health and mental health, Employment and workforce development and Climate Action. They also prioritized the development of a Regional Comprehensive Transportation Plan for Georgian Bay and the Bruce Peninsula. For more information, please contact Tim Simmonds, City Manager at 519-376-4440 ext. 1210 or email to tsimmonds@owensound.ca


  • Sanitation Supplies: The United Way has a selection of 50ml tubes of hand sanitizer, 100 tubes per box and boxes of Lysol wipes (6 packages per box) available for pick up in Owen Sound. If you are interested, email Misty@unitedwaybg.com
  • Enhanced Vaccine Certificate: as of Jan 4, 2022, the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code will be needed in certain settings. 
  • Download it at covid19.ontariohealth.ca 
  • Get it printed at a library or Service Ontario Centre. 
  • Call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to get it mailed. 


  • Saugeen First Nation: has a Photovoice Series as part of a First Nation Wellness Initiative. Several videos promote mental wellness under the pandemic. Video 3Video 4  and Video 5.
  • CDAS Opioid Working Group: Preliminary data shows that there have been 31 deaths between June 2020 to June 2021. This is a significant increase over the 12 deaths from June 2019 to June 2020.
  • With the ongoing opioid crisis being worsened by the Pandemic, we need to be aware of benzodiazepines and nitazene opioids in the unregulated drug supply in Ontario. Naloxone kits are very effective with overdoses but will not reverse the effects of these drugs. However, it can assist in keeping people breathing until they can get to hospital.
  • Naloxone Kits: please understand that they can not be used if they have been frozen. So if you are seeing them where people camp outside or if they are left in a car in the winter, please get them replaced or give out new ones. Contact: Bailey Ressler, B.Ressler@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.
  • Sharps Pilot Report: 56,706 sharps (needles) were returned to Safe N Sound under a 18th month Sharps pilot program with the United Way of BG. People obtained a $5-10 gift card in exchange based on the size of their container.


  • Safe N Sound ID Clinic/Income Tax Clinic: in partnership with CMHA-GB, the United Way and South East Grey CHC to offer a free Income Tax Clinic. It is estimated 1 in 10 people coming into Safe N Sound don’t have their taxes done or ID.  Clinics will be held on January 11th and 25th, 2022.  
  • Federal Budget: the government announced one-time payments to alleviate financial hardship of Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Allowance recipients who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) in 2020. 
  • However, in the technical briefing, it states it will calculate this payment on an individual basis and reimburse them starting in May 2022.   We will need to continue to support seniors through the winter and all the issues the pandemic raises.
  • Students who received the CERB but were found ineligible, will receive debt cancellation pending eligibility for the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit. FYI. This Benefit is closed to new applications. 
  • Campaign 2000 continues to advocate that compensation must now be expanded to include anyone living on low incomes who had other income benefits reduced, including people on social and disability assistance, and those who saw their workers benefit, child benefits and housing supplements reduced. 
  • Campaign 2000 also recommends the reinstatement of the Canada Recovery Benefit for individuals whose working hours are still impacted by the pandemic into Bill C-2.
  • Campaign 2000 encourages the federal government to make their decisions align with their commitments to reducing poverty. This includes dealing with the technical and design elements of benefits, which resulted in these kinds of negative benefit interactions. This would mean that the promised repayment to seniors should be made as a refundable credit so that it does not interfere with payments, in addition to making pandemic benefits deductible on the GIS income form.


  • Holiday Meals: 211 has a list of all Holiday community meal programs, hampers and food programs.
  • WRAP Mental Health: has developed a Loneliness Workbook. The content comes from a study of nearly 100 people and their strategies for relieving their own loneliness. 
  • PROOF has released its A Look Back at 10 Years of PROOF   Reframing discussions to recognize food insecurity as an indicator of pervasive material hardship, and therefore a way for measuring success in poverty reduction  shifts the policy focus to underlying problems of income inadequacy.
  • FoodBruceGrey.com: collects Grey Bruce food insecurity data which reflects the level of hardships people are experiencing locally. 
    • 15,559 meals were distributed in November 2021. 166,763 meals have been distributed since January 2021. (11 out of 16 programs reporting)
    • 14,015 households (18,169 people) were supported at 19 out of 20 Food Banks. 

 Stay well, Jill