The impact of rising prices on vulnerable people for rent, food, utilities, etc. and our slow recovery from the pandemic are creating the start of a tough year. It means more people are having to make hard decisions about what they can and can’t afford.
Five weeks into the new year, we are all busy with new strategic planning, advocacy for budgets and the release of new studies.
- Ontario released Pathways to Safety: Ontario’s Strategy in Response to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- How Can We Confront Homelessness in Rural Ontario: is aTVO panel interview held at the recent Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) meeting. The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay has been looking at social financialization of housing and the Institute’s Marilyn Struthers was part of the panel.
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission issued a statement on human rights and access to cold weather services. The importance of respecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness was reaffirmed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on January 27, 2023 when it denied the municipality of Waterloo’s request to remove an encampment when there is no adequate indoor shelter space as it would violate the residents’ Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.
- Rest Stations for Extreme Weather: 211 provides listings of warming stations available in Bruce County and Grey County.
- Short Term Shelter Programs in both Counties have worked hard this winter to ensure that people were sheltered before weather systems hit. Connections were made with prisons and hospitals to ensure that people were not discharged onto the streets during the extreme weather. They reached out to people living in tents to do wellness checks and offer warmer shelter.
- Safe N Sound in partnership with the City of Owen Sound extended their hours, including one extreme weather episode providing all night shelter.
- 2023 Ontario Budget Submission: pre-budget consultations were held locally by MPP Rick Byers on January 13th. The Poverty Task Force met in-person and provided a written submission.
- Other submissions include the Community Food Centres Canada 2023 Budget Submission including recommendations for a Canada Disability Benefit and a Canada Working-Age Supplement
- Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS): The Ontario government is doubling the GAINS payment for seniors for 12 months beginning January 2023. This measure will increase the maximum GAINS payment to $166 per month for single seniors and to $332 per month for couples, a maximum increase of almost $1,000 per person in 2023.
- Canada Housing Benefit The one-time top-up aims to help eligible low-income renters with a tax-free one-time payment of $500. Applications are due by March 31st 2023.
- Ontario Disability Support Program Earnings Exemption: the government has increased monthly earnings exemption for people with disabilities from $200 to $1,000 effective 1 February 2023 and reflected on March 2023 payment. This will mean that the first $1,000 earned in a month is exempt and will not affect ODSP income support. For each dollar earned above $1,000, the 25 cents is exempt from the calculation of income support. However, the total earnings are based on the household income, not the individual’s income on ODSP.
NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
- Community Services Recovery Fund (CSRF): responds to the adaptation and modernization needs of non-profit and charitable organizations facing immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic as they continue to support communities.The deadline to apply is February 21st at 5:00pm. Find out if your organization is eligible and how to apply here.
- An online CSRF Q & A Session for Grey Bruce community service organizations applying to the Community Services Recovery Fund is happening on February 9 from 4 – 5 pm. Register here.
- 2023 Emergency Food Access Grant: as food banks struggle with the urgent and increasing need of their communities, Food Banks Canada has a new fund ($2M in funding). Application deadline is February 19th, 2023. For eligibility or apply here:
- Bruce County Housing Demographic Study: has been released and the link to the Committee item is available at Human Services Committee – February 02, 2023 (escribemeetings.com).
- Re-engaging Retreated Workers: After analyzing the participation rates in the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula Economic Region it was noted that 6,000 workers retreated from the workforce in March of 2020 and were no longer participating in the workforce. With close to 90% of the available workforce between the ages of 25 – 54 (Labour Force Survey 2021 Custom Data Purchase) already participating it is more important than ever to re-engage the workers who have retreated. This report by the Four County Labour Market Planning Board looks at challenges to re-engaging workers in the region.
- RentSafe’s new suite of resources on mould aims to support proactive and coordinated action to address one of the most pressing habitability concerns in rental housing. RentSafe baseline research found that dampness and mould is one of the most common health concerns in rental housing.
- Bruce County Housing Toolkit: the third phase of the toolkit has been released – Resources for Additional Residential Units | Bruce County.
- Transitional and Housing Support Program: Ontario is investing $18.5 million over 3 years to support survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking by increasing access to safe and affordable housing, employment assistance and childcare.
- Georgian Bay Home Share Program: Grace United Church in Thornbury is undertaking to match seniors living alone with young people in need of accommodations. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Diana Dolmer at 519-378-4734.
- Bruce County Strategic Public Engagement: is underway and seeking initial ideas. Please submit your initial ideas online through the Bruce County 2023-2026 Strategic Plan Public Engagement Survey by Friday, February 10, 2023.
- Grey Bruce Health Services Addiction Treatment Services: have released 3 new surveys. Community Addiction Treatment (CATS) Services, Withdrawal Management Services (WMS), and WMS survey for friends and family seeking feedback on program and service needs. CATS survey, WMS survey and WMS Survey for Friends/Family.
- City of Owen Sound Community Garden Policy Input: closed on 30 January 2023 with input from Grey Bruce Community Garden Network Coordinator. A feedback report will be presented at the February 15th Community Services Committee. This is the first of its kind in Grey Bruce and sets a good framework for other municipalities/towns and cities.
- Seniors Home Share: Bruce County Housing to undertake a local feasibility study with York University. The team from York University is carrying a literature review/best practices analysis and carrying out key informant interviews/focus group discussions. The study results are expected to be released in March 2023. Contact Matt Meade, email@example.com, for further info.
- West Grey Public Library Children & Youth Service: Click here to provide input to the programs for kids and teens in West Grey. Contact Kayla, 519-369-2107, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Grey Bruce Foodrescue: nearly 60% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted each year according to Second Harvest. 1/3 of that waste is still edible, yet it goes to landfills instead of to those who could use it.
- No Frills Owen Sound and Foodland Markdale have been added to the program. OSHaRE continues to be a central hub for pick up, sorting and making surplus food available to community agencies. For more info contact Colleen Seaman, email@example.com or 519-377-7460.
- Grey Transit Route (GTR): route changes have been affected by budget and the Flesherton to Hanover/Walkerton route will be canceled in April 2023.
- Student Travel: students at Georgian College’s Owen Sound Campus will be able to access free GTR during the winter semester. This will help them getting to and from campus as well as to employment and field placements, co-ops or practicums.
The next Poverty Task Force meeting shall be on Friday, February 17th.
Stay well, Jill