Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 84

Dear Colleagues,

Rural housing, rural opioid poisoning, rural workers and reconciliation have all been in the news lately and discussed at almost every Grey Bruce planning table.

TVO’s The Agenda has been covering many of these topics featuring interviews with local colleagues:

Responses have included:

  • a Call to Action at Grey County Council on the drug poisoning crisis in Grey Bruce made by the Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy Grey Bruce,
  • Grey County Council endorsed the Call to Action and formed a Mental Health and Addictions Task Force. Review the TORs
  • MP Alex Ruff spoke to rural concerns during a debate on the “Opioid Crisis in Canada” issue in Parliament on February 8th, 2022 and highlighted the work of the SOS Pilot Project, 
  • the SOS Project provides fixed outreach services in Hanover and Owen Sound bi-weekly and has launched a new mobile outreach pilot with 10 partners for 12 weeks. An Interim Report is being prepared, 
  • the Poverty Task Force speaking to an Equitable Recovery = A Better Normal in our Annual Report 2021, on Rogers TV and in consultation with all levels of government, 
  • the Ontario government has launched a new intake of the Rural Economic Development (RED) program targeting labour attraction and retention.  Applications will be accepted up to March 7, 2022. 

INDIGENOUS YOUTH/CHILDREN SUPPORTS

  • In Canada, 7.7% of all children under 14 are Indigenous. 38% of Indigenous children live in poverty compared to 7% of non-Indigenous children. 52.2% of children in foster care under 14 are Indigenous. (Stats Can 2016) 
  • Indigenous Youth & Community Futures Fund (IYCFF) invests in opportunities for Indigenous youth (First Nation, Metis, and Inuit) to connect with their land, languages, culture, and each other.  Laidlaw Foundation is granting up to $30,000 to Indigenous youth-led groups (under the age of 35) that are based in remote, rural, and urban territories across Ontario. Applications are due February 24, 2022 @ 5pm. 
  • A new Indigenous students scholarship was announced by Bruce Power in the name of Greg Nadjiwon.  The scholarship will provide youth from Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) with $1,500 to support their education in the field of health and wellness. 
  • In partnership with Indspire, Bruce Power provides scholarships to local Indigenous youth through the Building Brighter Futures Indigenous Post-Secondary Award, which provides $4,000 to local Indigenous students who have completed at least on year of post-secondary education or apprenticeship programs. 

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • GIS Clawback: the Federal government has passed Bill C-12 that will see seniors compensated for full, annualized loss amounts as early as mid-April 2022. Thank you to everyone that wrote or called the Ministry of Seniors on this issue. 
  • Seniors do not need to take action to receive this one-time payment. The government also announced that MP offices will support seniors in dire financial situations. However, the MP offices are still awaiting direction from the Ministry of Seniors on what criteria will be used to define those situations. 
  • The temporary rate relief to help customers who were spending more time at home in Ontario due to the surge in COVID cases has ended. All time-of-use and tiered electricity usage was billed 8.2 cents per kWh from Jan 18 to Feb 7, 2022. In addition, providers are now requiring arrears to be paid before any new deliveries of propane/gas. 
  • Ontario Tax credits and benefits: Ontario residents should file their 2021 Income Tax and Benefit Return to get tax credits and benefits, even if they have no taxable income to report. Read more about extended and new benefits here
  • Connected for Success: Rogers is offering a reduced cost for internet  ($9.99/month) to customers who are on OW, ODSP or seniors receiving GIS. This gives people 25 Mbps download/5 Mbps upload, No credit checks, Free installation, Free modem rental, Unlimited Data. Apply at https://about.rogers.com/stories/ontario/

INDIGENOUS SUPPORT 

  • Bruce County Indigenous Reconciliation Planning Initiative: Bruce County has passed a recommendation to commit $150,000 for the Indigenous Reconciliation Planning Initiative over the next 2 years. Read the Report here
  • National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) announced their partnership on a national research program to advance understanding of reconciliation.
  • Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC): is seeking input on its strategic plan and future directions in a client survey  or community partner survey. Any questions can be directed to Marissa Bauldry, marissa.bauldry@ahria.ca

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORT 

  • Its Personal Period is working with community food banks to carry out a survey to understand the needs of its customers.
  • The Poverty Task Force submitted a letter to the Ministry of Finance/Ontario Budget 2022 consultation regarding the need to mandate menstrual products for all girls in schools and women in the workplace.
  • OSNP Grey Bruce Hot Pot Kettle learning project: St Mary’s, Grey Highlands, Walkerton Community and John Diefenbaker offered cooking classes with Hot Pot Kettles. Over 70 students created meals and took kettles home. This was made possible with a grant from Community Foundation of Grey Bruce through the United Way of Bruce Grey to OSNP Grey Bruce.
  • Foodbrucegrey.com presentations have been made at all Grey County municipalities as well as Grey County as a Whole Committee on food insecurity and the need for income solutions. 

TRAUMA SUPPORT 

  • Human Trafficking: The Ontario government announced an additional $3.6 million to rural frontline agencies that support survivors of human trafficking and women who have experienced violence. The additional investment will provide agencies with more resources, strengthen culturally responsive supports for Indigenous women, and reduce geographic and transportation barriers which will significantly improve access to quality care and services to victims in rural and remote communities. 

TRANSIT SUPPORT

  • Grey Transit Route will be bringing back the Stone Tree bus stops, both northbound and southbound, on April 1,2022. To book a trip for April 1 or later, people may call 226-910-1001, or book their trips online at https://driverseatinc.com/greytransitroute/.

Stay well, 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 65

Dear Colleagues, 

Even before the pandemic hit, homelessness was known to take up to 25 years off a person’s life. Now, life has become even more precarious for those experiencing homelessness and a lack of housing options.  

Considered among the most vulnerable to the virus, people who are experiencing homelessness are 20 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, 10 times more likely to receive intensive care, and more than 5 times more likely to die within 21 days of a positive test. (ICES & Lawson Health Research Institute, 2021)

A housing crisis, opioid crisis and the new Delta virus variant means people are living in very dangerous conditions. Thank you to all partners that are working to improve isolation conditions for people and to save lives.  

HOUSING SUPPORTS 

More than ever, please ensure that your teams are following all of the public health COVID 19 protection procedures.   

  • Safe N Sound: will be limiting service due to recent covid exposures. Their hours will remain in effect from 9:00am to 3:30pm, but will be curbside to hand out needed supplies, food or basic necessities. 
  • By-name List (as of 17 June 2021)
    • 84 homeless/49 chronically homeless 
    • 11 housed by agencies
    • 2 left the area (no contact in 90 days)
  • Indigneous Housing Support Program (as of 17 June 2021) 
    • 100 households, 144 individuals
    • 80 homeless/51 chronically homeless
    • 35 precariously housed
    • 11 elders/51 youth
    • 16 leaving institutions
  • Tiny Homes South Bruce PeninsulaCouncil has approved a town-initiated zoning bylaw amendment that includes eliminating minimum gross floor area requirements for homes beyond what’s set out in Ontario’s Building Code.
  • The City of Owen Sound has released an Housing Affordability Discussion Paper as part of its Official Plan. 
  • Recovery for All has launched its VOTE HOUSING campaign which advocates at the national level to increase investments in affordable housing and initiatives to address homelessness. 
  • Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) Annual Conference 2021 will be held on June 29, 2021, 3-5pm (via Zoom). This year’s conference will explore themes of energy equity, affordability and access. Registration is free, here
  • The Homeless Hub’s State of Systems Approaches Report explores how to prevent and end homelessness through an equitable, just and accountable framework of systems transformation.

RECONCILIATION

We are deeply saddened to hear of another horrific discovery of 751 unmarked graves of children. Our thoughts are with the Cowessess First Nation and all First Nation peoples of Saskatchewan and across Canada. #everychildmatters

  • A Day to Listen the Downie Wenjack Fund is hosting a series of stories, music and events to amplify Indigenous voices on June 30th. #dosomething 
  • M’Wikwedong IFC is offering a series of Youth Housing Workshops. Contact Rachel Paterson to register or for more info. ishp@mwikwedong.com

STRATEGIC PLANNING 

  • The Food Security Action Group will be meeting the Plan the Bruce team to give input into this Bruce County Strategic Plan.  Participate in an online survey at planthebruce.ca/communities to share your input.    
  • The Community Safety and Well Being Plan has been fully endorsed and released. Work begins now on assessment of Action Tables and the creation of county level and municipal action plans. 

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • National Guaranteed Basic Income Bill C-273 entered Second Reading on June 14th.  This is the first of 2 rounds of debate before the bill goes to a vote.  MPs from multiple parties debated the bill, most showing support and some raising questions about how to do it. 
  • The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business released a study this week which shows Indigenous companies needed more financial help during the pandemic, but many struggled to find relief.
    • The survey of 825 Indigenous businesses found 72% wanted more financial support and 44% didn’t think they could operate until July without aid. 
    • More than half, who were surveyed between Dec. 18, 2020 and Fed. 1, 2021, and who needed assistance, applied for at least one government relief program.
    • 52% qualified, but 1/4 of those had difficulty meeting application criteria and almost half said financial requirements were a barrier to accessing aid.
    • NACCA’s Indigenous Business Stabilization Program has been extended to June 30th, 2021.
  • 2021 Financial Planner Canada Financial Stress Index was released. 
    • Amid the pandemic, nearly 2-in-5 of Canadians (38%) say money is their #1 source of stress, more so than personal health (26%), work (20%), or relationships (15%).
    • More than half (51%) of Canadians have lost sleep over money concerns
    • 1/3 (31%) say financial stress has caused health issues – an increase from 18% last year.
    • Nearly 1/2 (45%) say the COVID-19 pandemic has directly impacted their financial stress level. 

FOOD SUPPORTS 

  • Feeding Families – Restaurant Relief more than 70 donors (businesses, groups and individuals) gave $45,000 to 40 local restaurants who’ve made more than 3,000 meals for OSHaRE. This was the total as of June 17th but we expect it to be higher with the final totals. The relief effort has come to an end as restaurants focus on re-opening their businesses. However, OSHaRE continues to provide meals daily and you can make direct donations.

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • City of Owen Sound Public Transit:  is completing a Transit Study and would like your participation in the survey.   Complete the survey and also forward to clients and families who may have an interest in having their voice heard. There are virtual stakeholder and public engagement meetings planned in June and August. Please go to the site to register. 

Stay well, Jill