Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 35

Dear Colleagues, 

National Child Day is Friday November 20, 2020. 

National Child Day is celebrated in recognition of Canada’s commitment to upholding the rights of children and two historic events: the 1959 signing of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.  

It is appropriate that in 2020 the Grey Bruce We C.A.R.E Project launches their COVID19sucks.ca “Let’s Talk About It” series of virtual talks.   COVIDsucks has been designed to help process losses and challenges experienced by students under COVID19. The goal of this new initiative is to:  

  • Provide a safe space to reflect and express
  • Offer a variety of verbal and nonverbal ways to interact
  • Learn new strategies to develop personal resilience and self leadership
  • Increase personal wellness
  • Build stronger social connections.

This initiative is possible through funding by the United Way of Bruce Grey and is facilitated by Ledge Leadership. To learn more, please visit covid19sucks.ca, follow on Instagram or Facebook.  

  • The Grey Bruce ‘We C.A.R.E’ Project is an initiative of community agencies and school boards who recognize the importance of working together toward the common goal of increasing and enhancing community capacity and mobilization around the promotion of youth mental health and prevention of youth suicide.  A 2018 Report Mental Health Challenges Amongst Youth in Grey Bruce is even more relevant under the pandemic. 
  • The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute is hosting a free webinar, Child Anxiety During a Pandemic- Helping Them Cope on Friday, November 20th from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Dr. Madhav Sarda is a Child Psychiatrist based in Saskatoon. Dr. Sarda speaks about child anxiety in a way that we all can relate to and understand. 
  • There is no fee for this webinar. Registration required. For more information and/or to register, please visit: https://skprevention.ca/event/child-anxiety-during-a-pandemic-helping-them-cope/ 
  • The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health  hosted a webinar with Children’s Mental Health Ontario discussing the province-wide virtual care evaluation conducted to find out what’s working, what’s not and how agencies and service providers can improve virtual services. The recording is now available: https://bit.ly/3lagi7Q 
  • COVID 19 IMPACT Survey: The Four County Labour Market Planning Board serving Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth survey is open until 30 November 2020. We are encouraging organizations to have their customers complete this online survey. surveymonkey.com/R/FCLMPBCOVIDIMPACT  


  • The Winter Disconnection Ban started 15 Nov 2020.  
    • Electricity and gas distributors are banned from disconnecting residential customers for non-payment from November 15 to April 30. 
    • Electricity and gas distributors have until December 1st to reconnect residential customers who were disconnected for non-payment before November 15. 
    • Electricity distributors may not install load control devices (devices that limit how much electricity is supplied to a home) on homes from November 15 to April 30. 
    • Electricity and gas distributors can continue to charge late payment fees on past due amounts during the winter disconnection ban period. 
    • It’s your responsibility to pay your electricity or natural gas bill on time.  We recommend making regular payments throughout the ban.   If you can’t, the most important thing to do is to stay in contact with your electricity or gas distributor and make payment arrangements, or see if you qualify for financial assistance. 
    • For more information on assistance programs for low income families, please visit: https://www.oeb.ca/rates-and-your-bill/help-low-income-consumers  
    • For more information about the United Way of Bruce Grey Utility Assistance program, please visit: https://unitedwayofbrucegrey.com/services-offered/utility-assistance-program/ 
    • To learn more about energy savings and upgrades that may help reduce high energy bills, please visit: ttps://unitedwayofbrucegrey.com/services-offered/energy-assistance-pilot-project/ 
    • For all other utility related assistance programs, please call 211 to learn about programs that may be available in your area. 



  • Community Food Programs experienced their highest numbers in October and numbers are increasing at food banks and meal programs as we move into winter.  Close to 100,000 meals have been distributed. 
  • Contact 211 for the latest plans for Christmas hampers, toy drives and Christmas meals. Most programs require advance registration. 
  • Keeping Not-For-Profits Connected During COVID19 have been actively distributing foodrescue.ca donated food via OSHaRE and emergency boxes from Feed Ontario via The Salvation Army Owen Sound. 
  • The Grey Bruce School Nutrition Program continues to seek funding and food donations for “Grab & Go” bags. Contact Bev Gateman, 519-364-5820 x 191.
  • The Food Policy Council of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington is seeking support to  endorse Bill 216 Amendment to Food Literacy for Students Act  Currently it is optional for schools to consider school gardens and food literacy programs. This bill would make it mandatory for schools to create garden programs and offer food literacy in Grades 1-12. Our Food Security Action Group reviewed this request and felt this was something we supported.  Individual organizations are asked to send letters of support to the Food Policy Council, Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force and your MPP. 

Stay well, Jill 

Behind the Scenes: Poverty Task Force Cover Photo

Image Source: Jill Umbach

At first glance, when people look at our cover photo they often see a rich lifestyle – the expensive sailboat moored in the Owen Sound Harbour with cheerful sunflowers in the foreground. Life looks nice and easy! So, how is this related to the Poverty Task Force?

It Takes A Crew 

In fact, the sailboat you see in the cover photo is the Playfair, a Toronto Brigantine Tall Ship, home to a Youth Empowerment Program.  They believe:

“It takes a crew to run a boat. No one person can sail these great ships. It takes a community, working together. Trainees learn quickly that their shipmates depend on them, and that they can rely on their shipmates too. This is how they build community, camaraderie, respect and bonding.”

Toronto Brigantine Tall Ship Adventures for Youth

This is how we approach our analysis and work at the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force.  Our collective community efforts are needed if we are to have an impact on poverty in our community.

Gardening for Food and Mental Health

Let It Grow TP
Image Source: Let It Grow

The sunflowers along the Owen Sound Harbour are edible and part of the Canadian Mental Health Association of Grey Bruce’s Let It Grow program. The flowers are grown and cared for by community members with a greater purpose than making us smile.

Gardening is a way to help build a sense of community, promote active living and encourage people to work outdoors. For consumers, gardening can reduce stress and improve mental health, increase social interaction and help to break down stigma.

We’re looking for local photographers!

Do you have a passion for photography, your own DSLR camera and experience with photo editing? We could use your help!

We are looking for volunteers to help make a difference by harnessing the power of photography to advocate for poverty reform and social change in Bruce and Grey Counties.

Learn more…


On Saturday, August 31st, join poet and activist Richard-Yves Sitoski as he conducts a four-hour write-in inside the front window of the Ginger Press Café and Bookshop in Owen Sound (848 2nd Ave East). 

From 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. he will compose poems based on suggestions from patrons and passersby, take requests to recite greatest hits from the literary canon, commit random acts of poetry, and invite people to write along with him.

Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., he will hold a scheduled reading of the poems composed during his shift. This reading will include an open mic portion with the participation of both invited colleagues and anyone who wishes to contribute. Singers, musicians and performers of all kinds are encouraged!

This event, held as a 100 Thousand Poets for Change sanctioned activity, is intended to celebrate the achievements of those diagnosed with psychiatric conditions, or who self-identify as Psychiatric Survivors – people who persevere and thrive despite the many social, clinical and personal obstacles occasioned by mental health issues.

100 Thousand Poets for Change (http://100tpc.org/

This is a world-wide movement devoted to social justice betterment through artistic means. This event listing can be found on their blog:http://www.100tpcmedia.org/100TPC2012/