Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 74

Dear Colleagues, 

Cathy Hird wrote in a Owen Sound Hub article that “one day is not enough”. Many partners hosted or participated in National Truth and Reconciliation Day/Orange Shirt Day last week. But we must continue to improve relations and to understand what actions we are committed to as “treaty people”. 

While May 5th, 2021 was Red Dress Day, this week is Red Dress Awareness Week. October 4th marked Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day. A day when we honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, support grieving families, and create opportunities for healing.

The 2021 National Action Plan responds to the many demands to end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. It is meant to honour and respect Indigenous and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples’ values, philosophies, knowledge systems, and agencies through the prioritization of Indigenous-led solutions and services, developed in partnership and sustained through the adequate resourcing of this work. 
The National Action Plan responds to the Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Métis Perspectives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and LGBTQ2S+ People report.

The National Action Plan is not meant to be frozen in time; it is evergreen, recognizing the urgency for immediate action, but also the importance of continuing to cultivate transformative change over time.


  • A county-wide survey is asking Grey County and Bruce County residents how COVID-19 has impacted their daily lives. Residents are being asked to provide feedback on a range of social, economic, and health-related questions. The survey is in partnership with the University of Guelph. Results will help the County and local municipalities make important decisions regarding pandemic recovery efforts. Go to: Grey County Survey or Bruce County Survey



  • Tamarack Is hosting a mid-Ontario Rural Community of Practice (CoP)  on Tuesday, October 12th from 1-2pm. Dominica McPherson, Coordinator of the Guelph-Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, will help to kick off our conversation by sharing their YIMBY campaign and how they have reduced overall chronic homelessness by 25% and youth chronic homelessness by 76% in the community. Contact Jill Umbach if you want to join the zoom call. 
  • Rentsafe Owen Sound Collaborative: our Landlord Survey is still open. Recently Erica Phipps and Jill Umbach joined Mary Jane Murray on Rogers TV.  Start at the 30 minute mark for the Rentsafe interview


  • New Rules for Employment Insurance: There are new pandemic-related changes coming to the Employment Insurance system that took effect Sunday, September 26. This is a list of a few changes. To see all criteria, visit Service Canada at  https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html
  • Eligibility: In the last year, EI applicants received a one-time top-up of hours to help them qualify. This ends and is replaced by a requirement to have worked 420 hours to qualify. These hours will be in place until September 24, 2022. 
  • To qualify for EI-Sickness benefits, the government is again requiring a medical certificate proving the applicant is sick and can’t work. This requirement was waived over the last year because of COVID-19. 
  • Benefits: The weekly minimum payment will decline to $300/m from $500/m.  
    • Regional unemployment rates will once again be used to calculate the duration and value of benefits. 
    • Anyone with an existing EI claim won’t see any changes to the value or duration of their benefits with the new rules.  
  • Seasonal workers in 13 regions will still be eligible for 5 extra weeks of EI regular benefits until October 2022. This is specific to seasonal workers who started claims between August 5, 2018 and this coming October 30th and depends on them having 3 claims for regular or fishing benefits in the last 5 years, and at least 2 starting around the same time of year. 


  • Meals2Motels: After 19 months, the United Way is phasing out of the Meals to Motels program as of September 30th. Close to 12,500 OSHaRE meals were delivered to those housed in motels. 
    • OSHaRE remains available to support people with meals twice a day. 
    • The YMCA Housing team will ensure there are frozen meals at the Key Motel in Chatsworth.
  • OSHaRE served more than 10,000 meals in August 2021. In all of 2019, OSHaRE served 22,000 meals. 
    • Pre-pandemic, OSHaRE was serving about 100 meals per day, and that rose to about 300 to 350 in the spring of 2020. Currently they are serving  between 150 and 200 people at lunch Monday to Saturday and from 280 to 350 at dinner Monday to Friday. All meals remain take-out due to the pandemic.
    • OSHaRE has observed that the rising cost of food and cost of living in general means they are seeing more people that need our service than ever before. There is no sign of the need waning.
  • Since March 2020, the Owen Sound Salvation Army has provided practical food assistance valued at $1,001,890.00. 
    • They have added an additional 321 new households that have never needed to use Food Bank services since the start of the pandemic.  


  • The United Way has released its 2022 call for United Way grants. Deadline is December 10th, 2021. Contact Francesca Dobbyn to discuss ideas and potential partnerships.  All the details, online application links, PDFs of the questions and any updates are on the United Way’s website: https://unitedwayofbrucegrey.com/about-us/community-impact-grants/2021-granting-call/
  • The Ontario government has announced a new $1.6 million Anti-Racism Anti-Hate Grant Program. Eligible organizations, including community-based, not-for-profit organizations, can apply for grants of $40,000 over 2 years for independent projects, or $100,000 over 2 years for partnerships between two or more organizations.

 Stay well, Jill 

OSHaRE holds soup lunch fundraiser

By Rob Gowan, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Friday, September 27, 2013 2:56:40 EDT PM



A growing need to feed people in the community has the Owen Sound Hunger and Relief Effort using new ways to raise funds.

A soup luncheon held at the bingo hall downtown on Friday is one of those ways.

“This is just new for us and we hope to make it an annual event,” said Peggy Moulaison, director of operations with OSHaRE, adding the reason for the fundraiser is to both raise funds and create awareness about the organization.

“A lot of people still don’t know about us and that there is an organization that is committed to helping those in need in Owen Sound.”

OSHaRE is a non-profit volunteer and donation driven soup kitchen that serves dinners Monday through Friday in the basement of the former Knox United Church, now Harmony Centre, in Owen Sound.

Since it started operating in February the number of people it has served nightly has grown from about 40 to more than 100.

“We are having 100 people a night right now and it is very, very busy,” said Moulaison. “We are up to 100 people and we had 115 people last night and it requires us to have a lot of food, a lot of prep, a lot of volunteers.”

Moulaison said the committee based their budget on serving between 60 and 80 people a night.

The organization’s $105,000 annual budget, which includes staff, groceries, rent and utilities, is entirely dependent on donations.

“It doesn’t seem to be slowing down any, so I am not to sure where that is going to take us,” said Moulaison, who added some nights they have actually ran out of food during the dinners, which run from 5 to 6 p.m.

“Sometimes at night if we run out of food, which we have, we will make sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches and we will heat up soup because we have that as a backup,” said Moulaison. “We don’t want anybody to go away hungry so we will do that.”

Moulaison said the local heart and stroke association held a soup luncheon for a number of years, but haven’t had one in recent years and she felt it was a good fit with OSHaRE.

The event was held at the bingo hall because of it is centrally located. Moulaison hopes to hold the event at the Harmony Centre in the future so that members of the public get a chance to see the facilities OSHaRE uses and get a better feel of what the group is all about.

By about 11:30 a.m. on Friday about 50 people were sitting down to a lunch of soup donated by local restaurants, a bun, vegetables and dessert. Moulaison hoped about $2,500 would be raised from the event for OSHaRE, which she said has been getting great support from the community.

“The community has been very, very generous,” said Moulaison. “We have been getting a lot of food donations and a lot of monetary donations. People have been bringing their fresh vegetables from their garden and it has been very, very wonderful.”

Groups March Together

By Scott Dunn, Sun Times, Owen Sound  Friday, March 1, 2013 8:53:48 EST PM


Tina Drysdale is doing what she can to help fix a problem that’s not easily solved — one that is dependent on people who care.

She raised $90 towards a $6,000 fundraising goal in the two-day March Together event to help agencies that help the poor and homeless.

One of the beneficiaries is the new city soup kitchen. It alone has a $100,000 budget, all to be raised through donations.

There are six aid agencies sharing equally in the walk proceeds, so the need for money is great.

“It’s in our heart to do whatever we can. And really, you know walking around the arena . . . it really is a small price to pay,” Drysdale said. She walked around the rink inside the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre Friday afternoon with JoAnn McFarlane. Both are members of Crossroads Victory Church, whose pastor, David Mathieu, sits on the board of the Owen Sound Hunger and Relief Effort or OSHaRE, which runs the soup kitchen five nights a week.

Drysdale, McFarlane and Mathieu were among 16 people on four teams registered Friday who raised more than $2,000 for the cause.

Today more people will walk starting at 3 p.m. at the United Way office downtown and ending with a chili supper at 5 p.m. across the street at the former Knox United Church, now Harmony Centre Owen Sound.

McFarlane said she feels called to do what she can when she was asked why much of the burden of helping people in need should fall to ordinary people. “For me the joy is that we’ve come together as a community to provide for these people who very much need it,” she said.

The six groups involved in the fundraising walk all serve the same group of people but there has been tension among some of them. This event is the first of to work together to raise money, which will be shared equally among them. Walk chair Andy Fletch said it will become an annual event.

The benefitting groups include OSHaRE; Safe ‘n Sound, the after-hours emergency housing referral service and drop-in centre; the Salvation Army food bank; and Y Housing, which arranges emergency shelter stays and long-term accommodations. The Y will use the money to buy toiletries and other supplies for clients in urgent need. The Victorious Living Centre runs the only emergency shelter in Grey-Bruce, as well as a drop-in centre, and walk-a-thon funds will support those efforts too.

The United Way will use its share of money raised to pay heating cost arrears where furnaces burn wood, oil and propane. Other programs cover gas and electricity arrears.

United Way executive director Francesca Dobbyn, who registered walkers Friday, said changes in provincial funding as of Jan. 1 have cut certain programs for the poor and made them more difficult to access.

“The Ontario government eliminated the Community Startup Benefit, the rent bank and a couple other small emergency housing supports, lumped it under an emergency housing benefit . . . but (provided) only half the money.”

Dobbyn said one implication is that someone in county geared-to-income housing who is disconnected for utilities arrears would be evicted because they’re no longer eligible to access provincial utilities arrears funding.

In the past, a combination of funds from the United Way and the county, which receives provincial funding to keep people housed, would pay the arrears and those people could stay in their homes. Now if someone is in county geared-to-income housing they don’t qualify to access funds for utilities arrears in Grey and Bruce counties, Dobbyn said.

She said the province’s thinking is that those people in social housing are already getting a break by paying less rent and so they shouldn’t also dip into the other funds. She questioned the ethics of that. Regardless, she said, it will mean more people will lose housing and they will place more demands on charitable organizations, which makes the March Together event that much more important.