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 

UK – Tripling in foodbank usage

Tripling in foodbank usage


Local food bank drive, doesn’t make it.

The Owen Sound Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive has seen an “unprecedented” drop in the amount of food collected this year.

During the drive, which wrapped up Monday, under 10,000 pounds of food was collected, well below the organization’s goal of 28,000 pounds.

“It is probably an unprecedented drop for us,” Alice Wannan, the Owen Sound Salvation Army’s community and family services co-ordinator, said Tuesday morning. “Our goal was 28,000 and as of this morning we have hit 9,239.”

Wannan said the final numbers from the drive had been tallied up Tuesday morning and there were not yet any plans on how the Salvation Army intends to make up the shortfall.

Update here

As of Tuesday morning, Wannan says the Food Bank tallied only 9239 pounds of food.

The money collected from the kettle drive came in at $6979.13 —  which equates to approximately 2791 pounds of food.

Salvation Army set to launch food drive

By Rob Gowan, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 3:07:53 EDT PM


Consistently high demand has the Owen Sound Salvation Army Food Bank hoping for a strong Thanksgiving Food Drive.

“We are certainly at the lowest point we have ever seen our food shelves at,” said Alice Wannan, the Owen Sound Salvation Army’s community and family services co-ordinator. “Primarily that is because numbers did not drop during the summer. Normally we see a decline in the number of families that use the food bank during the summer and we did not experience that at all.”

The Salvation Army branch is kicking off its 27th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive on Friday. The drive runs until Oct. 14, when organizers hope to collect about 28,000 pounds of food.

Wannan said the shelves were virtually bare prior to this past Saturday when a stuff the ambulance event was held at Zehrs where about 1,500 pounds of food and over $400 in cash donations was collected.

In Owen Sound in the month of August, the Salvation Army assisted 667 individuals with food , of which 168 were under the age of 18, which works out to almost $38,000 worth of food given to families during the month.

“It’s a staggering number when you think of that,” said Wannan. “As a Salvation Army we would not be able to do that without the community support.”

Wannan said the need is slightly higher than last year, but it is the consistency of the need that is depleting the Salvation Army’s supplies.

“Normally we have different times of the year where it seems to let up and we have a bit of a lull in the numbers where it kind of lets us build up our food supplies,” said Wannan. “We just have not seen that. Numbers consistently seem to be from 650 to where we have had up to 745 individuals in a month.”

Wannan attributes the need to the higher cost of living people are experiencing.

“The rents. the heats and hydros, the cost of kids going to school, are what we are consistently hearing from families are impacting their abilities to put money away for food,” said Wannan.

The organization depends on the Thanksgiving Food Drive to get its shelved stocked for the busy holiday season and carries the food bank through most of the year.

“The Thanksgiving Food Drive is the only food drive the Salvation Army runs throughout the year,” said Wannan.

This year marks the first year where the Salvation Army will not be distributing paper bags through the newspaper. This year the organization has opted to make people aware of the food drive drive through a pamphlet that will be included in the weekly store flyer package.

“We wanted to make that transition to be a little more environmentally friendly,” said Wannan. “We have been sending out approximately 13,000 bags every year. We get a good number of those back, but we certainly understand there are a lot that aren’t coming back and are probably going to the landfill site.”

Wannan said the pamphlets are also more cost effective and they can be kept and posted on peoples’ fridge as a reminder. The pamphlet includes details about where food can be dropped off and the items most needed, including peanut butter, Kraft Dinner, juice, canned beans and pasta and soup. The pamphlets are also being distributed by local churches and schools.

“By the beginning of our Thanksgiving campaign we hope to have about 20,000 of them out,” said Wannan. “We are hoping to get the word out to more people in the community, we just won’t be using the paper bags.”

People can drop off food at local grocery stores, businesses and churches during the duration of the food drive. On Oct. 10 and 11 there will be a Thrifty truck in the Zehrs parking lot where food can be dropped off. The truck will be in the Bayshore Broadcasting parking lot on Oct. 12.