For many of us, the majority of our work involves navigating social support systems with people to ensure access. At the Poverty Task Force, our work involves identifying and addressing systemic barriers.
Some days, it feels like the system is a series of holes that are getting deeper for people to climb out of. No matter how hard people dig and how many shovels we give them – they have to dig deeper to get out of one hole only to have another hole open up next to them. For example, we welcomed the income support of CERB but we and anti-poverty groups are now worrying about repayment by people who may find themselves ineligible.
- The Perth-Huron Social Research and Planning Council has released a discussion paper, “Making a Livable Income: The Next Layer of Protection”. The paper promotes and discusses the practicalities of a Universal Basic Income. The paper highlights that “rural areas and small towns would also be the biggest winners economically, from a Basic Income because small towns and rural regions would see the largest stimulus effects of a Basic Income.”
- The United Way of Bruce Grey has released the numbers for its Utility Assistance Program. Despite not being able to meet with clients from mid March, 2020 and an extended utilities disconnection ban through to July 31st, there wasn’t a significant decline in the number of households seeking support.
- The Meeting Place in Tobermory is a ‘community hub’ providing a unique blend of rural social support to those who may be in stressful situations, are isolated or need system navigation. In their recent Annual Report, they reported they have seen a significant increase in clients under COVID19.
- The Community Connector expressed her concerns “that many people collecting CERB have not put away some of their benefits to pay the tax on it come next tax season … Many clients, and myself, are concerned with what will happen come fall. With the late start to the season, what will EI look like? The majority of clients rely on EI for income, and barely get enough hours to collect benefits for 4-5 months. Will they even qualify this year? If they do, will it run out in February?”
Under COVID19, the government announced a ban on disconnects for natural gas and electricity for non-payments. As of August 4th, 2020,the utility disconnect ban will end.
- Customers who were behind in payments prior to March 2020 will be targeted for disconnection first. They should expect collection activities and disconnection orders to be issued.
- The United Way of Bruce Grey has pulled together an update on the rules and processes to be followed on utility disconnections. (See Attached) along with other supports.
- Call 211 for eligibility criteria and how to apply to various utility support programs.
- LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program) will open again when the disconnection ban ends. This assistance is only available if you are behind on your bill payment and may be facing a service disconnection.
- CEAP (COVID19 Energy Assistance Program) is available to customers who 1) have an account in good standing on March 17th, 2020, 2) failed to make full payment on at least 2 bills issued since March 17th, 2020, 3) have an overdue balance on the date of their application to CEAP and 4) have not received any LEAP or OESP funding in 2020.
- Canada Child Benefit: starting in July 2020, the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit will increase to keep pace with the cost of living. CCB is based on a family’s income from the previous year and is tax-free. That means:
- up to $6,765 per child under age 6
- and up to $5,708 per child age 6 through 17
- Disability payment: a one time tax free, non-reportable payment of $600 will be distributed to people with disabilities and their families as they face new costs and navigate challenges due to COVID-19. The one-time disability payment — which originally was only going to benefit Canadians who qualify for the federal disability tax credit — will now also go to those receiving disability benefits through the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan and Veterans Affairs Canada.
- Wage Subsidy – The Federal Government passed legislation (C-10) that makes changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. The changes include changing eligibility to expand the number of businesses eligible, changes the amount companies can put toward their worker’s wages, and extends the program to the end of the year.
- Kasper Transportation resumed bus services between Guelph and Owen Sound on 20 July. See their updated bus schedule.
- Grey Bruce Health Unit has updated their COVID19 Considerations for Travel.
Stay well, Jill