Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update #118

Dear Colleagues, 

National Indigenous History Month invited us to reflect on the unique connections and relationships Indigenous people and their ancestors have and have had with this land for thousands of years and countless generations.  Many people partners gathered on June 21st to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  We shall continue to celebrate Indigenous-led initiatives changing systems. 

Pride Month may be coming to a close, but our commitment to supporting and uplifting the 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ community remains as strong as ever! While the month saw many parades, flags flying and pride celebrations in many communities across Grey Bruce, we also saw hatred and intolerance in reaction to these events.  Grey Bruce households flying pride flag targeted by hate mail. | Ontario Morning from CBC Radio with Ramraajh Sharvendiran | Live Radio | CBC Listen

There is much more work to be done to advocate for diversity and inclusion in our communities; and we call on our local governments to take a stronger stand against hate and discrimination. 

  • Grey Bruce Pride is petitioning local government to develop more Anti-Hate and Anti-Oppression Response Policies and Proactive Prevention Policies within Grey Bruce. Petition · Immediate Anti-Hate and Anti-Oppression Response Policies Required within Grey Bruce · Change.org
  • Beth Ezekiel Synagogue call on local governments to take a strong stand against hate and discrimination in every form: to increase engagement with all targeted groups, to support meaningful public education programs and, to draft policies that ensure our friends and neighbours live safe, secure, and peaceful lives in Grey/Bruce. 

Bruce County Strategic Plan has been released with a pillar focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Bruce County: Strategic Plan 2023-2026


  • Grocery Rebate: the one-time payment to support low- and modest-income Canadians and families was issued on July 5th, 2023.  It can be up to an extra $467 for eligible couples with two children; up to an extra $234 for single Canadians without children; and an extra $225 for seniors, on average. Canadians to receive grocery rebate this week. Here’s when? (citynews.ca)
  • Free Income Tax Clinics: July is the first month where taxpayers receive their eligible payments if they filed their taxes on time. If you work with low-modest income individuals or newcomers, July is a great month to provide information on benefits and credits available to them. This allows the individuals to ensure that they are receiving all benefits and credits where they meet the eligibility conditions and serves as a reminder to file their taxes as early as possible if they have missed the deadline of April 30, 2023.  Find a service at:  freetaxclinics.ca  
  • Canada Disability Benefit Act (Bill C-22): was passed by Parliament on June 22nd which proposes to create a federal income supplement for low-income, working-age people with disabilities, modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Summary of the proposed Bill C-22: The Canada Disability Benefit Act – Canada.ca
  • CERB Impact Study:  Policy Alternatives has concluded that CERB was a positive experience for recipients, providing stability during a global crisis: 70% of respondents said CERB had a positive impact on their household financial situation.  But CERB was more than an income support: 67% said it helped them deal with the stress of the pandemic, 60% said it allowed them to take care of ill family members and 49% said it helped them re-enter the job market. CERB_Final_June 12, 2023.pdf (policyalternatives.ca)
  • Grey Bruce Community Volunteer Income Tax Program Network: a gathering of Volunteer Coordinators, volunteers, social agencies and government representatives will take place on September 14th. See poster for more details. For those involved in the program, please register for this free event at: http://bit.ly/3CTANjv


  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce: released a brief concluding that it is critical to build the right types and mix of housing, including purpose-built rentals, missing middle, student, non-profit, cooperative and supportive housing. Home Stretched: Tackling Ontario’s Housing Affordability Crisis Through Innovative Solutions and Partnerships (occ.ca)
  • Grey County Homelessness & Transitional Housing System Enhancement Plan: In Grey County, costs related to short term shelter of individuals and families have risen sharply since 2018 and the need continues to rise. A new report outlines the cost of the program, ongoing budget needs, barriers to the existing system, gaps and complexities as we move into the summer and plan for the winter season. 
  • Grey Bruce Coordinated Access/By Names List: as of May 31st, 117 households are on the list, 100 experiencing chronic homelessness. 63 households have moved off the list since November 2022. We have been designated a Built for Zero CommunityBuilt For Zero Canada – Community Map (bfzcanada.ca)




  • Grey Transit Route:  Owen Sound, Wiarton and Sauble is running 4 times daily 7 days/week for the summer. Find schedules and pre-book your seat at www.greytransitroute.com or call 226-910-1001 for more information. Free transit on weekends for many routes!


Stay well,  Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 94

Dear Colleagues, 

The provincial election is over and we were able to use our Income Solutions advocacy to raise the issue of basic income and living wage at many All Candidate Debates. We shall continue to hold space for solidarity on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Power is held accountable within and outside of the ballot box. We shall continue to raise our rural voices and amplify the voices of the most vulnerable in our communities.

This month is Pride Month and National Indigenous History Month. We recognize the rich history of Indigenous Peoples, the resilience of Indigenous communities and the work being done towards truth and reconciliation. This month, take the time to learn and explore Indigenous history. Access resources and join community activities.

  • National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation: visit their education hub for additional learning and teaching resources.
  • Indigenous People’s Day – Sacred Fire June 21st, 
  • Giiwe Youth-In-Transition and Housing Sharing Circles invites Indigenous and Non-Indigenous partners to join the upcoming Giiwe in-person circle. Friday, June, 17th, 10am-2pm, Traditional Fire at the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority near Inglis Falls. People are welcome to come and bring colleagues, family and friends. Lunch is potluck and Nadia Ellis (is coordinating all donations.   (nadia.ellis@grey.ca
  • Anishinaabe Giizhigad (Anishinaabe Day) on June 6. To learn more about this new holiday, have a read via Anishinabek News.

We recognize and celebrate the 2SLGBTQI+ community in Grey Bruce. The Grey Bruce Pride have pulled together a list of events throughout the two counties.



  • Ontario government support: people who are affected by a fire (and other circumstances), who are not being supported by OW or ODSP can apply for financial support (under $1,000) at: https://ea.mcss.gov.on.ca/
  • Owen Sound Water Rates:  according to a recent study, the average annual residential Owen Sound water/wastewater bill (for 200 cubic metres of consumption) was $1,344 in 2020, in line with the average for other municipalities with water services in Grey Bruce ($1,371). Water and wastewater surcharge rates have been raised which will impact on many people’s ability to pay bills quarterly. However, people can now negotiate monthly payments to make it easier to make payments. 


  • YMCA Emergency Shelter: ·        
    • In 2019, the YMCA provided 2,569 nights of shelter with 214 nights of shelter/month.
    • In 2020, the YMCA provided 6,513 nights of shelter with 543 nights of shelter/month.
    •  In 2021, the YMCA provided 8,380 nights of shelter with 698 nights of shelter/month.        
    • In Jan-Apr 2022, the YMCA provided 3,875 nights of shelter with 968 nights of shelter/month. 
  • Cooling Stations are open in Grey County and Bruce County: contact 211 for the latest listing. 
  • Hanover Fire Response: community partners continue to provide support for tenants who are homeless after the fire. The trauma of the event is still being felt by tenants as expressed in this first person account. But the community and social service partners are doing their best to assist people to find shelter and recover. 
  • People impacted by the fire should contact 2-1-1 for support. These needs will be channeled to the appropriate service agency. 


Recent data collected at Foodbrucegrey.com (20 May 2022): 

  • 46,000 community meals were distributed in the 1st quarter of 2022. This is a slight increase over 2021 but with less organizations providing meals. Community meal programs are busier than anytime in the last 20 months. This is driven by the cost of housing and living right now.
  • 21,000 kilograms of food was diverted under food rescue so far in 2022. 17,000 kilograms were diverted in 2021. Please reach out to Paul Wagenaar or Jill Umbach to assist in onboarding new retailers.
  • 55,000 kilograms of food was distributed by food banks. This is a 32% increase over the same period in 2021.
  • 8,000 volunteer hours were donated in the 1st quarter of 2022. Volunteers are largely seniors and they are doing an incredible job. Reach out and thank these volunteers.
  • Community gardens are in the planning and preparation stages for summer production. Food donations and volunteers are tracked for these important programs as well.

Stay well, Jill

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 63

Dear Colleagues, 

The Poverty Task Force offers our deep condolences and stand in solidarity with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, with all residential school survivors, and with all of our Indigenous friends and neighbours who continue to face intergenerational trauma and oppression based on deeply rooted, systemic colonial legacies.

This legacy of life-threatening discrimination against Indigenous peoples is threaded throughout our history and continues today. The last residential school closed in 1996, and many of the survivors of the 139 schools that existed across Canada are alive today, still dealing with the trauma that was inflicted on them as children. 

Our colleague, Diane Giroux from M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre has written to community partners –  

“Our shared journey must consist of reconciliation as we strive to bring healing to all. Your engagement in Giiwe is one of these appreciated reconciliation gestures. 

At our May 21st Giiwe Sharing Circle, a draft list of recommendations that could be implemented within agencies and organizations was shared.  This document is still a work in progress as we consult with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Teachers, Healers and the community to bring it to completion. 

Please consider addressing one or two of these in the coming weeks. Each gesture is a contribution to healing and giving hope. There needs to be hope.” [email povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com for a copy of the recommendations]

Merci and Miigwetch to Diane for sharing her words of action and healing.  We cannot end poverty without addressing Indigenous-specific racism through meaningful learning, advocacy, and reconciliation. 

  • M’Wikwedong IFC is inviting the community to join them for a come-and-go ceremony and sacred fire for all the children found in Kamloops, BC on Friday, June 4th from 11am-2:30pm. 
  • For those who need support right now, or anytime in the future. Please call National Indian Residential School Crisis Line, 1-866-925-4419 

Today, the Core Working Group launched the National Action Plan on MMIWG and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People.  The plan has been co-developed with  the National Family and Survivors Circle and 8 sub-working groups. The plan will drive transformative change to end systemic racism and violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women/girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples.

  • The National Action Plan responds to the findings of and 231 Calls for Justice from the 2019 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the 62 Calls for Miskotahâ (Michif word for change) from the Métis Perspectives report.
  • Today also marks the  2nd anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the MMIW National Inquiry
  • The National Inquiry has determined that colonial structures and policies are persistent in Canada and constitute a root cause of the violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 
  • The residential school system is part of the systemic violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. 
  • The report highlights that the thousands of truths shared before the National Inquiry reinforce the existence of acts of genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people:
  • The federal government announced investments in excess of $18 billion in the 2021 budget over the next 5 years to improve the quality of life, advance reconciliation and create new opportunities for people living in Indigenous communities.

National Indigenous History Month is a time for all of us – Indigenous, non-Indigenous and newcomers – to reflect upon and learn the history, sacrifices, cultures, contributions, and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.   

National Pride Month Grey Bruce Pride has planned a wide range of activities this month. Go to their Facebook page for more details. Some activities include 

  • exploring 2SLGBTQQIAP+ terms each day
  • education material and self-discovery pieces shall be posted daily
  • car rally on June 27th 
  • identifying businesses as as pride safe spaces
  • collecting pride letters to support 2SLGBTQQIAP+ members who are struggling 


  • Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund The Federal government launched a $291 million loan fund for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. The loans range from $25,000 to $250,000. This is part of the Black Entrepreneurship Program.  


  • Remote learning will continue for the remainder of the school year, the Ontario Government announced. This will allow the province to continue its focus on accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations to support a safer summer and return to in-person learning in September for the 2021-22 school year.  
  • Sick Kids-led study (Feb 2021) found more than 70% of children aged 2 to 18 years expressed feeling lonely, overwhelmed, sleepless, worried, sad, irritable, anxious or stressed during the first wave, with isolation posing a significant risk factor. 
  • Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced an $80 million fund for school boards to hire up to 1,000 additional mental health workers for the next two years. Over $31 million was announced for support to schools for 2021-2022. 


  • Intersectional Action Fund is a federal grant that usually goes to organizations outside of the health sector to 
    • identify priority areas for collective action on social determinants of health (SDOH) and wellbeing
    • foster transformative partnerships to facilitate action on SDOH and wellbeing and build capacity to take action on SDOH and wellbeing. 
    • projects funded range from $25K-250K for 1 year. 
    • Application Deadline: July 12, 2021 at 3:00pm EDT. Funding starts no earlier than Fall 2021.

 Stay well, Jill