Be kind!” is the message coming from the Grey Bruce Health Unit this week as we move to Stage 3 of reopening and the mandatory use of masks. I have attached a few new posters created by the Grey Bruce Health Unit Communications Team regarding masks. #strongertogetherGB
- Concerned about what ‘reopening’ means for area charities and non-profits? Have questions? Want answers? There will be a moderated Q & A call with Dr. Arra for Not-for-Profits and Charity organizations on July 28th, 1:30-3:00pm in which Dr. Arra.
- Please register here and ask your burning questions in advance! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CWWGW3R
A morning smile is the announcement by the Ontario government of proposed changes that would provide additional protection for payday loan borrowers by capping interest rates and fees on defaulted loans, ensuring that workers and families who use payday loan services can keep more of their hard-earned money. The changes were included in the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 and will be amendments to the Payday Loans Act, 2008.
- Lenders would not be permitted to charge interest in excess of 2.5 per cent per month (non-compounded), providing rate relief to borrowers unable to repay their loans on time.
- A maximum fee of $25 that may be charged by lenders for dishonoured or bounced cheques or pre-authorized debits.
- ODSP will send information about CERB reporting and how it will impact ODSP monthly payments to all ODSP recipients who reported CERB. Income from CERB is treated similarly to how earnings are treated under ODSP. The amount of the CERB that is deducted from ODSP depends on the situation of the person receiving it. For individuals under 18 or in full-time secondary or postsecondary school, CERB is fully exempt, meaning that it does not get deducted from ODSP payments. For everyone else, the CERB is partially exempt: The first $200 received in a month is fully exempt and a 50 per cent exemption will apply for each additional dollar, no matter the total amount of CERB payments collected.
- ODSP Grey Bruce’s hours are changing: effective August 4, 2020, service delivery hours will return to regular hours of 8:30am-5:00pm, from the current hours of 10:00 am– 2:00pm.
- This is not a return to regular client services. Existing health and safety measures related to COVID-19 continue to be followed. Clients will continue to be served via secure methods such as over the phone, via intercom and in secure rooms. They will limit the number of face to face interactions with clients to where it is necessary to ensure client service.
- A new report by Statistics Canada outlines how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted Indigenous respondents. 36% of Indigenous respondents reported that the pandemic had a “strong or moderate” impact on their ability to pay for essentials while 25% of non-indigenous respondents reported the same. Despite experiencing higher levels of hardship, fewer indigenous respondents reported applying for government support.
- Recent polling by the Native Women’s Association of Canada found that Indigenous women are experiencing greater financial difficulties (46%) than other Canadians (34%) and the financial impact of COVID-19 closely correlated to rates of domestic violence against Indigenous women.
- The Senate Finance Committee urged the Federal Government to work with Provincial, Territorial, and Indigenous Governments to “give full, fair and priority consideration” to a Basic Income in their COVID-19 Relief in times of Crisis report.
- A recent article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal takes an equity-informed perspective on emerging trends and interventions to reduce the impact of COVID on those experiencing homelessness.
Recently, Tamarack hosted a cross-country rural communities and housing discussion and some of the highlights of the discussion were:
- Funding – Emergency funding for sheltering people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic has demonstrated how quickly things can change when there is political will. Once funding for COVID-19 is gone, the solutions that were developed will likely not be sustainable.
- Short-term solutions – Many who were homeless prior to the pandemic are now being temporarily housed in hotels and motels. While there have been some benefits to this intervention, there is widespread recognition that this is a short-term solution and not permanent housing. There are concerns about long-term availability at motels/hotels as communities open up for tourism and concerns around how long government funding will last.
- Wrap around services – Food delivery programs, transportation assistance, internet and cell phone distribution, wellness checks, and mental health and addictions support have been an important element that has been coupled with housing responses during the pandemic.
- Housing supply – Lack of affordable housing stock in rural communities continues to be a major barrier in providing long-term solutions, even when funding is available for wrap around services such as mental health supports.
- Collaboration – Partnerships around housing and homelessness have improved since the onset of the pandemic. There is hope these new collaborations will be sustained into the future.
- Data – There is a need for more data to get an accurate picture of housing and homelessness in rural communities. Point-in-time counts prior to the pandemic may no longer be accurate.
- Recovery planning – Housing is not seen as a key focus of most COVID-19 recovery plans. Members are seeing plans being developed at provincial and federal levels rather than local or regional levels.
In Grey County and Bruce County, housing and homelessness remain important priorities. A July 9th, 2020 report to Council reported on the County’s work, partnerships and next steps. The full report is attached.
Stay well, Jill