Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 78

Dear Colleagues,

As world leaders gather in Scotland for the UN Climate Change summit, we need to consider the deep interconnection between poverty and climate change.  “The impacts of climate change tend to be larger on more vulnerable populations and reinforce existing demographic inequities, highlighting an unfortunate commonality between climate change and COVID-19.” (Grey County Draft CCAP, pg. 25)

People with low income have very little savings and ability to adapt to increased costs of living. The newly proposed general minimum wage of $15.00/hr effective January 1st, 2022, raises the rate from $14.35 but it does not come close to paying a Living Wage. In 2019, Grey Bruce’s Living Wage was calculated at $18.39. People’s ability to relocate to secure jobs and affordable housing requires resources that many people with low income do not currently possess. People who are already affected by food insecurity, will find it even more difficult to put food on the table if climate change impacts food availability like the pandemic has.

The data collected by the Bruce Grey Food Insecurity Data Collection Hub (BruceGreyFood.com) reflects an increase in the number of people accessing community meal programs and food banks under the pandemic. But while the pandemic lockdown has lifted we have not seen a decrease in usage but rather numbers are increasing and new families are accessing these services.

“It is for that reason that as we continue to try and learn from this pandemic, we need to, at the same time, identify ways in which we can apply these learnings in the fight against climate change.” (Grey County Draft CCAP, pg. 25)

The Grey County Draft Climate Change Action Plan is now available for review and comment at Draft Climate Change Action Plan. County staff would welcome feedback on the draft CCAP.  Comments can be sent to the Planning Department at linda.swanston@grey.ca until November 5th, 2021. 

RECONCILIATION BEGINS WITH US

  • Land acknowledgements are an honest and historically accurate way to recognize the traditional First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit territories of a place.  According to Anishinaabe-kwe Wanda Nanibush, land acknowledgements have one goal, regardless of format: they commemorate Indigenous peoples’ principal kinship to the land. Nanibush says “they’re a starting place to a change in how the land is seen and talked about [and they] help redefine how people place themselves in relation to First Peoples.”
  • Treaties Recognition Week. November 1-7th, 2021. It is important to learn about treaties and the transfer/ownership of land as an important part of t of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. As well as understanding what it means to live on Unceded land. 
  • We need to recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ inherent kinship beliefs when it comes to the land, especially since those beliefs were restricted for so long.
  • Learn more about the Treaty history of where we live at: https://www.saugeenojibwaynation.ca/treaty-history
  • We know Ontario would not exist without treaties. https://twitter.com/solmamakwa/status/1455123667168415745?s=27
  • Hear from Saugeen Ojibway Nation Environment Office video with Doran Ritchie sharing Harvesting & SON Rights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4bky7svtxc

MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS SUPPORTS

  • Indigenous Trauma-informed Supports: The provincial government is investing over $36 million to support community-led mental health and addictions in Indigenous communities across the province. This funding will help ensure culturally appropriate and trauma-informed supports are readily available, including supports for Indian Residential School Survivors and their families.

HOUSING SUPPORTS/RESEARCH

  • Spark Housing Initiative, The Meeting Place will be hosting focus groups to gather qualitative data on the housing situation in the Northern Bruce Peninsula. For more information you can reach out to The Meeting Place at 519-596-2313 or info@tobermorymeetingplace.com

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

  • Grey Bruce Virtual Job Fair:  November 23rd from 2-7 pm. Job seekers are encouraged to register early as spaces are limited. Register grey.ca 

DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & EQUITY

  • Grey Bruce Pride: have launched a Community Needs Assessment Survey.  They are asking people in the 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ community how they experience life in Grey Bruce and to suggest ways that you would like to see to make things better in the community. 

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • Community Foundation Grey Bruce: announced its Fall Grants with a larger number awarded for food security programming such as expanding community gardens in Meaford, Owen Sound and Durham. As well as a new Community Closet and Pantry at the South East Grey Community Health Centre, and hot food programs or meal classes through the United Way of Bruce Grey, Safe ‘N Sound, Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre, and The Chesley Baptist Church Hot Meal Program.
  • Gateway Centre for Excellence in Rural Health: in partnership with Guelph University they are carrying out a study on food accessibility and insecurity among rural seniors in 4 counties: Huron Perth Bruce and Grey. 
  • Studies show that rural seniors face more significant challenges and are at a greater risk of food insecurity than their urban counterparts. Surveys will be completed by phone with seniors over 70. Please contact Casandra Bryant for any questions at: casandra@gatewayruralhealth.ca 

Stay well, Jill 

$2,000 donation to help tackle precarious work

Peace & Justice Grey Bruce is a member of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force. In partnership with the PTF’s Income Security Action Group, Public Health and United Way of Bruce Grey we are launching a campaign to work on bringing a living wage to Grey Bruce.  The article below highlights the work of the Peace & Justice and new funding from the Society of Energy Professionals to address issues of precarious work.

By Denis Langlois, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Peace & Justice Grey Bruce wants to get as many people as possible talking about what it calls the social and economic dangers of “precarious work.”

The local non-partisan coalition plans to use a $2,000 donation from the Society of Energy Professionals to continue to shine a light on the problem and lobby governments for action to address it.

David McLaren, a member of the organization, said a chunk of the money will be used to produce a report on precarious work, a term used to describe the low-wage and often part-time or temporary jobs that are on the rise in Ontario communities.

“We’re also going to be continuing our partnerships with other people. We’ll be trying to make this an election issue for the municipal election. And we’re going to be producing a lot more materials,” he said in an interview Thursday during an event and cheque presentation at the Grey Bruce Health Unit in Owen Sound.

“The idea is to go out and bring more people into the tent, if you like, under the umbrella, to talk about this. And some of those people will be in positions to do something about it as well.”

McLaren said social agencies and anti-poverty advocates cannot fix the problem on its own. Companies and businesses also need help.

“As soon as (employers) start paying higher wages, then they too become in precarious positions, so the only other place to look is to government. Government does have a mandate, they do have some authority under various legislation,” he said.

Municipalities, for example, can mandate that all of their employees receive a “living wage,” which is about $15 an hour in Grey-Bruce, he said. They can also insist that the companies they contract to provide services will pay their employees a living wage as well, he said.

The province, meanwhile, can require a higher minimum wage, while the federal government can revise its taxation system and legislation to support better-paying jobs, he said.

Peace & Justice Grey Bruce says precarious employment is work that does not pay well enough to get a person to the end of the month. Most often, the job does not include benefits. Some people are working three part-time jobs to make ends meet.

The organization says 20% of Owen Sound families are low income with a median income of $15,590 a year, which Statistics Canada says is about half of what is required for a family of four to stay out of poverty.

McLaren said Peace & Justice Grey Bruce is part of a coalition of organizations that is working to tackle precarious work. It also includes the United Way of Bruce Grey, the local poverty task force, the Grey Bruce Health Unit, municipal politicians and unions.

Dick Hibma of the Society of Energy Professionals said his local, which is made up of 1,100 Bruce Power employees, supports efforts to assist people in precarious jobs that have no voice.

He said his union wants to see all people paid a living wage.

The political decision-makers, including members of the provincial and federal governments, hold the key to fixing the problem, he said.

Kathleen Wynne objects to $14 minimum wage

 27 January 2014

Premier Kathleen Wynne has welcomed recommendations that would increase Ontario’s minimum wage annually by the rate of inflation but is downplaying the notion the $10.25 rate should be boosted dramatically.

The provincial advisory panel’s report released Monday doesn’t address the thorny issue of what today’s rate should be.

The report also recommends businesses get four months notice before any increase takes effect and that the government review the scheme in five years.

“The reason we asked the panel for advice is that we really want to move away from an ad hoc system — or lack of system — of dealing with the minimum wage,” Wynne said Monday in Thornhill before the report came out.

“The panel is going to advise us . . . that we should index the minimum wage to an indicator and we’re going to look at that advice,” the premier said, putting cold water on the bid to dramatically hike the $10.25 hourly rate.

“I know that there’s a call for $14, but we have to move carefully because this is about making sure that we retain and create jobs,” she said.

“At the same time we have to have a system in place that has a fairness to it that . . . has not been the case for many years.”

The minimum wage has increased 50 per cent in Ontario since 2003, from $6.85 to $10.25 per hour, taking it from one of the lowest in Canada to one of the highest. This report will guide our efforts to ensure a fair minimum wage for Ontario’s workers, improve living standards for the most vulnerable and keep businesses competitive.

Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi pointed out in a statement Monday that the “minimum wage has increased 50 per cent in Ontario since 2003, from $6.85 to $10.25 per hour, taking it from one of the lowest in Canada to one of the highest.”