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 # 105

Election Education # 7

This week some voters have begun to vote in advance polls and others will start online or via phone later in the week. 

  • Voter Information Letters have been mailed out to voters and this week voters should have received the details on how their municipality is voting.  Please contact them if you have not received a Voter Information Letter or need to verify if you are registered to vote.     
  • Each municipality has set up its own Election Help Centres. We have links to each Municipal Election website at: greybrucevotes.com (scroll to the bottom of the page). 
  • Bruce County Libraries will be available to direct you to your local Election Help Centres. 
  • Hanover Library will have a secluded computer with access to the Internet and the online voting system, with staff assistance for people using the computer to vote, but not assistance with voter’s list or registration services. 

Are candidates getting our housing message?

Housing is the greatest source of inequality in our communities right now. Paul Kershaw, of Generation Squeeze, a think-tank focused on generational equity wrote a report on housing unaffordability in Ontario. TVO also speaks to how long term renters, many who are seniors with fixed incomes, are in an increasingly precarious position. 

Many organizations raised the question of affordable housing and homelessness at All Candidate Debates, in Facebook conversations and in-person engagement with candidates. Here are a few public recordings of All Candidate Debates: 

In the papers: 

Upcoming All Candidate Debates

  • Owen Sound – Oct 12, 7pm, Harmony Centre, Owen Sound – hosted by Rebound
  • Paisley- Oct 12, 7pm, Royal Cdn Legion, Paisley
  • Port Elgin – Oct 13, 6pm, Plex, Port Elgin 
  • Shallow Lake – Oct 12, 7pm, Shallow Lake United Church – hosted by Georgian Bluffs Climate Change Action Team

Other campaign priorities: income solutions 

Thanks to pandemic benefits, Canada experienced a 18.9% drop in poverty between 2019 and 2020—the largest in decades. 

  • The largest decline in poverty between 2019-20 was among youth (-5.5%) and kids (-4.2%); the smallest was among seniors (-0.8%). 
  • It has been proven that government income support can directly reduce poverty.

 Now that pandemic benefits have expired, Canada seriously risks rising poverty

Join our next Poverty Task Force meeting as we discuss the rising cost of living, utility poverty and income solutions.  

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 104

Election Education # 6

This week is Truth and Reconciliation Week and Sept 30th is Orange Shirt Day and National Day of Truth & Reconciliation. Our municipal leaders are responsible for taking leadership on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. 

  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission: we encourage you to take the time to reflect, listen, and learn about the Calls to Action 
  • The Nawash Ezhiwebag has a listing of Truth and Reconciliation Day ceremonies and activities happening at Neyaashiinigming First Nation. 
  • Saugeen First Nation also has a full day of events planned in partnership with GC Huston Public School including a  Zgaa-biig-ni-gaan renewal ceremony (11am) and events with various programs in the afternoon.  They will have booths on site during the day. Their focus of the day is “Our Children – Past, Present and Future”.  They are looking at what is needed today and moving into the next 7 generations to ensure the safety, protection, good health and wellbeing of their children and further, the support of the families.
  • M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre will be supporting a ceremony at the Giichi-Name-Wiiwedong Reconciliation Gardens. 
  • Many municipalities, towns, schools and libraries are holding events this week and on Friday.

Housing remains a critical municipal election issue as municipalities play an important role in facilitating the development of affordable rental housing. We have updated the Poverty, Voting and Election page with recent reports and questions for candidates and voters to consider: 

  • The Municipal Role in Housing studies (Munk School, 2022) emphasizes the role of municipalities in setting zoning policies and approval processes that can help meet the need for housing in their regions.
  • Grey County has announced updates to its official plan.  Some of the changes include allowing for more Additional Residential Units (ARUs) in existing dwellings, as well as a separate structure on a property. Currently, you can have one or the other, not both. This would allow for tiny homes, employee housing and co-housing.
  • Bruce County Housing announced a new Municipal Housing Allowance program that enhances housing security and helps vulnerable residents maintain their rental units.
  • Grey County Affordable Housing Task Force September report on surplus public land available for housing. 
  • Grey County Housing launched its new Short Term Shelter Program effective Sept 21st, 2022. Contact 211 for intake if someone is or at risk of being homeless. 
  • Welcoming Communities Grey Bruce poses 5 questions for candidates and voters to consider. Municipal councils can ensure their local policies and programs do not discriminate against people with diverse backgrounds and can set the tone through welcoming and inclusive policy initiatives.

What is your candidates’ strategy to address housing & homelessness? 

Councils play a role in the public messaging on how to show respect and compassion for people who are experiencing homelessness. We encourage you to look up candidates in your municipality and ask about their position on housing & homelessness. 

  • 34 Mayoral candidates are running and 4 have been acclaimed. Many candidates are publishing their housing plans as part of their platform.  For example, Ottawa Mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney proposes building vibrant, mixed-income neighbourhoods that offer affordable housing in her Plan for Housing Affordability. https://www.mckenney2022.ca/housing
  • Rebound Owen Sound and NDP party members took action in front of the City Hall of Owen Sound and posed questions to the current council on their housing strategy.  
  • Grey County Life/Rogers TV: we recently spoke with Grey County Life about housing & homelessness as an election issue and the launch of the RentSafe Tenant Survey.  Go to the 10 minute mark for the interview. As of Sept 26th, 547 people have completed the survey. 

Representation on the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force

The Poverty Task Force has been coming together for 10 years to collectively address poverty-related issues across Bruce County and Grey County. We have benefited from the leadership and core support of both Counties. We have had many Wardens, Mayors and Councillors actively involved. Recently the City of Owen Sound passed a motion to have a permanent representative to the Poverty Task Force. This is another way for our discussions to be formally reported to the Council and the public. 

When complex issues such as homelessness are very visible in our communities, we must work together to reduce the Not-In-My-Backyard approach and look at our local responsibilities. Everyone deserves a safe home and access to services where they choose to live. 


Some debates have already taken place in communities such as Kincardine, Lion’s Head, Meaford and Wiarton but here are more coming up! 

  • Ayton – Thurs, Sept.29, 7 pm,  Normanby Arena Auditorium, Ayton hosted by
  • Kemble – Wed, Sept 28, 7pm, Kemble United Church
  • Mennonite Corners – Oct 4th, 7pm, Canadian Reformed Church 
  • Meaford – Thurs, Sept 29,  7pm, (for Mayor, School Board Trustees),  Bognor Hall,  Bognor 
  • Owen Sound – Thurs, Sept 29, 6pm – Meet the Candidates, 7pm – Debate, Bayshore Community Centre, Owen Sound
  • Shallow Lake – Oct 12, 7pm, Shallow Lake United Church – hosted by Georgian Bluffs Climate Change Action Team
  • Tobermory – Thurs, Oct  6, 7pm,. Tobermory Community Centre, Tobermory
  • Walkerton – Wed, Sept 28,  7:30 pm, Victoria Jubilee Hall, Walkerton


Many libraries and other outreach services are offering support to voters:

  • The SOS Mobile Outreach will be at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market on Oct 5th, 1-4pm.  The City Elections team will be attending to assist people to register to vote. 
  • Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library: offers computers to vote online. Staff will take a confidentiality oath to allow them to assist people to vote online. 
  • Simply Voting has released an instructional video for those municipalities voting by phone or online. 
  • Date of birth is critical to register to vote. If a voter gets a letter with a warning of an incomplete date of birth they will need to contact their election help desk. 

Stay well, Jill