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. 

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • 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. 

EDUCATION SUPPORTS

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. 

   CHILDREN/YOUTH SUPPORTS   

  • 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.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Poverty In Canada

17 October 2013

In 1993, the UN designated October 17 the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and later adopted the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger as the core of its Millennium Development Goals. The theme for this year is “Working together towards a world without discrimination: Building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty.”

To mark the day, here are some things about poverty in Canada that you might not know:

10. It’s hard to measure

There is no official measure of poverty in Canada. Statistics Canada reports that 14.9 per cent of Canadians have “low income” (i.e. make less than half the median income) but declines to label that group “poor.” Low income is only one way of measuring poverty, though; another is the “basic needs poverty measure,” which looks at the absolute minimum resources needed to fulfill physical well-being. The “market basket measure,” created by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, takes a similar approach with a broader range of goods and services, estimating the disposable income needed to meet basic needs. In 2008, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted that poverty had been steadily rising in Canada since the mid-1990s.

9. It varies widely between different groups

Regardless of how you try to measure poverty, certain groups are worse off than others. A study by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that Aboriginal Canadians make about 30 per cent less than the rest of Canadians. Other groups more likely to be affected by poverty include lone parents, recent immigrants, people with disabilites and seniors, according to Statistics Canada.

8. Child poverty is high in Canada

Canada ranks behind the average in a recent UNICEF survey of child poverty in rich nations. According to the report, 13.3 per cent of Canadian children live in poverty, compared to 11 per cent across the 35 “economically advanced countries” studied. According to one studyhalf of First Nations children in Canada live in poverty.

7. It’s a significant burden on the economy

Poverty can exert extra health care, crime and social assistance costs. According to an estimate from the Ontario Association of Food Banks, poverty costs that province betwen 5.5 and 6.6 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product. That same report pegs the national health care costs attributable to poverty at $7.6 billion.

6. Many Canadians spend too much on shelter

In 1986, the federal and provincial governments established a threshold of housing affordability set at 30 per cent of a resident’s monthly income. By that standard, a full quarter — or 3.3 million households — in Canada are paying more than they should on housing, according to data from the National Household Survey released this year.

5. Poverty can shorten your life

An analysis by The Hamilton Spectator showed that there was a 21-year gap in life expectancy between that city’s richest and poorest neighbourhoods.

4. Many don’t have enough to eat

According to Food Banks Canada, nearly 900,000 Canadians are assisted by food banks each month. Thirty-eight per cent of those helped by food banks are children and youth and 11 per cent are Aboriginal (compared to 4.3 per cent of the total population).

3. Homelessness is widespread

As many as 200,000 Canadians will experience homelessness each year, according to a recent report from the Canadian Homelessness Research Network. On any given night, about 30,000 Canadians are homeless.

2. Debt levels are on the rise

Last month, Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian household debt-to-income ratio had climbed to a new high of 163.4 per cent — in other words, the average Canadian owes $1.63 for every dollar they earn.

1. Early investment can yield big dividends

2008 report from the Public Health Agency of Canada argues that reducing child poverty can have huge spillover effects on society. “It is estimated that $1 invested in the early years saves between $3 and $9 in future spending on the health and criminal justice systems, as well as on social assistance,” the report says.