Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 29

Dear Colleagues, 

Please SAVE THE DATE for a Poverty Task Force full-meeting on Friday, October 16th from 10am-12noon.  We shall be hosting a virtual meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17th.  An Agenda will follow with an invitation to join us on zoom. 

COVID-19 gives us the opportunity to rethink how we organize our systems to address the inequities embedded within them. The long-term impacts of COVID-19 on women in the workforce remains unknown. However, with women’s labour force participation at a record low, decades of progress towards gender equality are at stake. 


The voices are getting louder and stronger in addressing the increased need for fast, reliable and affordable Internet service for rural residents.  

  • Free Public wifi in Grey County: can be found on the Community and Business Resilience Map 
  • Free Public wifi in Bruce County: can be found on the Open in Bruce Map  
  • Bruce Telecom has partnered with the Municipality of Kincardine, Town of Saugeen Shores, and the Township of Chesley to offer free WiFi at various Outdoor Learning Centres for the 2020/2021 school year.   This will enable people to take online courses, home school and working from home.   


  • Leads Employment Services is starting the Options program on October 5th.  This program is funded through Skills Link funding, part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy. The program focuses on youth with disabilities (ages 15-30) who are motivated to work.  Paid group based learning with an employment placement to follow.  See attached flyer. 
  • Leads Employment Services has been back up and running since August and are available to meet clients in person.  They are following all safety measures including extra cleaning of surfaces,  offices, pre-screen form, mask distribution to clients and use of boardroom to meet clients.  


  • We have been very fortunate that we have some key agencies – The Salvation Army Owen Sound, OSHaRE, Habitat for Humanity, United Way Bruce Grey and Grey Bruce Sustainability Network – that have agreed to take on more leadership in the access to and distribution of food to meet the emergency needs of communities across Grey Bruce. 
  • Partners of the Food Security Action Group are moving forward in formalizing Distribution Hubs in order to expand our reach further across Grey Bruce and support smaller community food programs and other non-profits who are offering food in their programs.  
  • Partners are in the process of setting up new communication, administration and distribution channels throughout Grey Bruce with several lead agencies:   
  • Distribution Hub foodrescue.ca fresh produce donations: OSHaREreceives fresh produce donations from grocery stores, restaurants and farmers. Extras are made available for redistribution to community meals programs and food banks. 
  • Distribution Hub for food banks donations:  The Salvation Army Owen Soundis a member of Food Banks Canada and Feed Ontario as well as receiving other food donations. They are able to receive large donations and/or purchase bulk food at significant discounts. 
  • Distribution of fresh produce from Community Gardens:  There are many local community gardens that provide food to food banks and community meal programs. Grey Bruce Sustainability Network/Meaford Community Gardens connects gardeners/farmers as donors directly to community food programs and will also transport fresh produce to OSHaRE for further distribution. 
  • Transportation and distribution support: The United Way Bruce Grey has contracted Habitat for Humanity to transport and distribute non-perishable items such as toilet paper and PPE to food banks. Habitat is also delivering fresh produce to community meal programs and delivering hot meals to people sheltered in motels by the Women’s Centre, M’Wikwedong IFC and YMCA Housing.  
  • Support to Community Food Programs: the United Way has hired a Food Security Coordinator to provide greater support to community food programs in the way of logistics, distribution and access to funding.
  • Ontario School Nutrition Program – Grey Bruce: linkages have been made for community meal programs to aslo share extras with the breakfast club programs. Items for the ‘grab-and-go” snacks are needed. At present, school kitchens are closed, some schools are closed to volunteers and hot meals are not being prepared. Cost saving solutions and partnerships are being built with the program.  


  • Launch Pad: now offer programs for 55+. Call to register or send an email. T: 519-506-6300 or email at: james@yatc.ca 


  • Saugeen Shores Attainable Housing Task Force: 200 people attended the public consultation and launch of the Task Force last night.  
  • They are requesting the public to complete an Attainable Housing Survey.  42% of people who work in Saugeen Shores don’t actually live in Saugeen Shores. So they are encouraging people who live outside to also complete the survey which runs until October 8th, 2020.
  • 24 organizations have agreed to participate in stakeholders’ meetings in October. There will also be community roundtable meetings in November.    
  • Housing challenges in Saugeen Shores include:
    • the short-term rental market (summer tourism) being more lucrative than year round rentals. This has driven the high rental rates and availability. 
    • The median income is over $105,000. 
    • There is not enough housing stock for people to move through all ages and stages of life. It is challenge to find housing for: seniors who wish to downsize, students to move home, young families to afford homes and low-wage workers to live and work in the same town. 
    • COVID19 has meant that many “snowbirds” won’t be leaving for warmer climates in the winter of 2020 and remain in their homes. Thus there will be less rental vacancies. And for some “snowbirds” they may be looking for winter accommodations. 
    • And the area is attractive to retirees and under COVID19 people are moving out of the city.  
  • The objective of the Task Force is to look at solutions for attainable and affordable housing for all ages and income levels.
  • The Ontario government has introduced the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act that would, if passed, freeze rent in 2021 for most rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units. The bill would provide the vast majority of Ontario’s tenants with financial relief as the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery.
  • Housing partners report that many sheriff eviction notices being served now were pre-COVID19 decisions.  
  • The Emergency Housing Action Group members are engaged with the City of Owen Sound to find effective solutions to “hotspots” around the city. While the Council has approved more policing dollars for one particular hotspot there is a need to come up with a more comprehensive plan. 
  • The Grey Bruce Health Unit and the Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy have been releasing stories of substance use to educate the public on the complex nature of addiction and put the faces to the statistics. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 27

Dear Colleagues, 

A recent Tamarack Institute Community Of Practice call asked members what were we planning for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – October 17th, 2020?  How were we participating in this global #EndPoverty campaign? 

International days are opportunities to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.

This year marks the 28th anniversary of the declaration by the General Assembly, in its resolution 47/196 of 22 December 1992, of 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.   This year’s theme has not been announced by the UN yet. The 2019 Theme was “Acting Together to Empower Children, their Families and Communities to End Poverty” and I feel that we could add “under COVID19 conditions” and we would have our theme for 2020.  

Many rural poverty reduction tables were on the Tamarack call and the answer to the question for many was – “What? We are still busy responding to emergency shelter and food issues. We are too busy working on meeting peoples’ basic needs in the community while ensuring people stay safe, when do we have time to advocate for an end to poverty?” 

However, with every short-term “band-aid solution” partners deliver, the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force partners have given thought to long-term solutions.  Our new Impact Report 2020 lists our collective priorities and we know that income solutions are critical.  

  • Maytree policy team suggests Five Good Ideas for Income Supports in a post-CERB Canada:  If we are going to shape a future that recognizes the inherent dignity in everyone, and reduces inequities across race, gender, and income, we need to think beyond traditional economic and social policy thinking from decades past, and move into a post-CERB world. 
  • A Just Recovery For All event will be hosted by Tamarack on October 14th, 1-2pm  to examine the COVID-19 crisis and the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic to health, the economy, environment and society as a whole are being experienced by individuals, families and communities across the country and the globe. 
  • new website is being launched by Coalition Canada: basic income-revenu de base  The Coalition is made up of a cross-Canada group of experienced and knowledgeable activists associated with the Ontario Basic Income Network.  
  • A current major initiative involves developing relationships with Members of Parliament from local constituencies, building towards a (virtual) Lobby Day/Week on Parliament Hill, October 20-22. They invite agencies to visit their website to learn more. 


  • CERB payments: there is a delay in payments for September. Most people are accustomed to receiving the payment by direct deposit within 48 hours of reapplying for it.  Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has introduced new due diligence measures to ensure cheques are reaching the correct bank accounts. People are expected to receive cheques in their accounts by September 4th, 2020.  
  • CEWS Audit – The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is undertaking an audit pilot project to review the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and assess if fraud is a widespread issue. CRA says it has detected a few illegitimate claims but that the “vast majority” of first checks came back clean. 
  • 2020 T4 reporting requirements for Canadian employers – CRA is requiring that all Canadian employers report employment and retro-active payments on T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid slip for defined periods under new codes. The periods align with COVID-19 benefit periods. These reporting requirements are in addition to the existing requirement to report employment income in Box 14 using Code 71. 
  • Mortgage payment deferral programs are ending. 


Parents and teachers are focused on Safe Return to Class guidelines, mental health supports and physical safety of students and teachers.  

  • The Ontario government released itsOperational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools which aims to help schools identify and isolate COVID-19 cases, prevent and minimize outbreaks. The Guidelines call for daily screening of children by their parents, school boards to keep their communities informed and protocols to trigger various levels of public health responses or infection control measures.  
  • Local school boards have released each of their respective Back to School plans. Dr. Arra and the Directors of Education from 2 Grey Bruce School Board met with parents via zoom last week to answer questions about what is being implemented locally. 
  • The Grey Bruce Health Unit has a dedicated COVID19 page for Parents and Families where you will find the latest management plans and protocols. 
  • The Chief Medical Officer of Health also issued, COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management to support public health units in investigating cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks, a protocol for dealing with students who become ill and determining whether a class or school must be closed.
  • The government intends to surveillance test asymptomatic secondary students. Students will not be required to get a COVID-19 test even if they’re sent home with symptoms. 
  • Social distancing in classrooms is still a question for parents and concerns about intergenerational transmission (grandparents and students) once kids go back to school.  These new guidelines do not cut or cap class sizes.
  • The federal government announced up to $2 billion in support for provinces and territories through the Safe Return to Class Fund. The funding is meant to support adapted learning spaces, improved air ventilation, increased hand sanitation and hygiene, and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. 
  • The Ontario government announced $381M in federal funding for back to school initiatives, allocated as follows: $200M for implementing reopening plans; $70M for student transportation; $12.5M to enhance special education and mental health supports; $12.5M for additional Public Health nurses; $36M for remote learning; and $50M for future pandemic learning needs.
  • United Way 2020 Backpack Program:  2,600 backpacks have been ordered and are currently being distributed. There remains available backpacks for families. 2-1-1 is no longer taking orders. Please call the United Way office @519-376-1560 if families have not registered or haven’t heard from the program. 
  • The United Way cannot guarantee that we can get backpacks to towns outside of Owen Sound. We are looking for people who are travelling to various locations because our community partners are not open. 


  • The Grey Bruce We CARE Project in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, on September 10th, is offering awareness kits to the community which include a window poster, sidewalk chalk, positive messaging mirror stickers, a battery operated candle for your window, a colouring contest and a double-yellow awareness ribbons. 
  • If your family, business or organization would like a kit for your location, please email jralph@cmhagb.org.  For more details on the colouring contest, please visit www.facebook.com/thegreybrucewecareproject  
  • Partnership for Kids Grey Bruce: In the 3 months of this initiative, 551 children received a new toy, craft or game to help mitigate the negative mental health effects of isolation during the early stages of COVID-19.   
  • The Scenic City Order of Good Cheer and volunteers from Martin School Transit and The Rocking Horse traveled over 10,000 km across our vast geographic region of Grey and Bruce to deliver the toys to the children.  
  • The GO FUND ME page and additional donations raised $33,210.00, which went directly to the purchase of good quality toys, crafts and games for those most in need children.  

Stay well, Jill 

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty_17 October 2013

Thursday the 17th October, we will mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the theme of which for 2013 is: Working together towards a world without discrimination: building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty.

Sharon O’Shea (UNICEF) asks us to think about this theme and what it means practically; we must demand that societies be judged on and held accountable for their ability to provide lives of dignity for all members, including those living in extreme poverty and those who are the most marginalized.  The shame, humiliation and exclusion that our most vulnerable often face in attempting to exercise their rights or make a better life for themselves and their families should be a source of shame for us, not for them.

Why Food Charity Won’t Solve Canada’s Hunger Problem

Posted: 10/18/2013 12:49 pm

A throne speech may cause great anticipation for some, but unless you are considered “middle class” or a consumer, this speech was not made for you.  Presented in the same week as World Food Day (Oct, 16) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17), it was not unreasonable to think that there may have been reference to two of the largest pressing social challenges millions of people in Canada face, but addressing food security and poverty are not key themes in the governments vision for the next few years.

There is no love lost for anti-poverty advocates who didn’t expect any big announcements for poverty in the throne speech considering Canada’s recent rejection of recommendations by the United Nations to develop strategies to combat poverty, homelessness and food security.  In September, the Canadian government formally responded to recommendations made by members of the UN Human Rights Council as part of a review of Canada’s human rights record. A number of countries pointed to national strategies as solutions to poverty and its related challenges, as well as an important step for Canada to fulfill international commitments to economic and social rights such as the right to housing and to food.

What was most difficult to swallow was Canada’s reasoning for denying the most vulnerable in society leadership on these persistent social ills, and that was because they believed that current federal and provincial programs and policies were already in place to adequately address these issues. A pretty unbelievable statement considering what we know:  between 3-4 million people are living in poverty, 200,000 people are visibly homeless, and over a million faced homelessness or were housing insecure (paying more than 30% of their rent on shelter costs) this year. Even worse is the number of people without sufficient access to food – 3.9 million.

Food insecurity is not as simple as being hungry, it encompasses experiencing fear about not having enough food to eat, to skipping food for an entire day.

A portion of these people head to food banks, which have seen overall visits rise in the past few years to the current level of nearly 900,000 visits each month. If the government thinks that food charity constitutes ‘doing something’ about food security, they need to think again.

Individuals have a right to food and struggle to access, produce or acquire adequate meals because of low-income levels, poor wages, high housing and childcare costs, and increasing costs of living in general. Breaking down the recent food banks numbers shows that 52 per cent of people visiting are on social assistance and 12 per cent of families are currently working. People do not have enough money to eat. This is not simply a food problem; this is a poverty problem.

To focus on food charity is to ignore the root of the problem. Yes, people need access to emergency food in tough times – that is why food banks were created – but over 30 years later food banks have boomed and their numbers steadily increased.  Ending hunger is not about charity, it is about justice and respect for human rights.

This year on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada, collaborated with food bank volunteers to say enough is enough. It is time to look beyond food banks and get a national poverty plan in place.  In 12 cities across Canada volunteers took the streets over lunch hour to hand out 10,000 brown bags with food for thought and a postcard they could send the Prime Minister signaling their support for a national poverty action plan.

Groups such as Campaign 2000, Parkdale Food Bank and Freedom 90 – a group of grandmothers who volunteer at food banks and want to see solutions to the root causes of hunger – joined together to send a clear message:

Food charity is not the solution to hunger. A federal poverty plan that considers housing, childcare, food security and incomes is necessary to ensure people have enough to eat and feed their families.