Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 59

Dear Colleagues, 

Today many of us have joined the Tamarack Institute’s End of Poverty AGM. Over 70 communities across Canada have come together (700 adults/92 people with lived experience and 350 youth). The conference is using an interactive Howspace digital platform. Check it out! It is very dynamic. 

  • Tamarack officially launched their new name – shifting from “Cities Reducing Poverty” to “Communities Ending Poverty”.  This recognizes the work being down in rural communities as well as cities. 
  • Mayor Naheed Nenshi, City of Calgary was the keynote speaker. He leads Calgary’s Enough for All poverty reduction strategy and roundtable. Their motto is “My neighbours’ strength is my strength. My neighbours’ success is my success. My neighbours’ failure is my failure.”  Mayor Nenshi spoke to the fact that we are “all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat”.
    • Women, people living in racialized communities and in poverty are hardest hit by COVID. 
    • People living in poverty are at higher risk to COVID. 
    • The pandemic has widened the income gap.  
  • People with Lived Experience Perspective: a video was featured which included members of our Community Voices. 
  • Rural Communities reducing poverty workshop: our Indigenous-led Giiwe Circles team of Diane Giroux, M’Wikwedong IFC and Carlos Sanchez-Pimienta, Queen’s University gave a powerful presentation on its trasformative model.
    • Giiwe gave a strong message that we need to invest more in relationships and building trust if we are to address reconciliation issues, and Indigenous homelessness.  
    • Giiwe creates a safe space to discuss very uncomfortable and sometimes “messy and slow” issues.  But if we stay with those feelings we can transform how we work and be more successful in the work we do; and more importantly in improving Indigenous peoples’ lives. 

Yesterday, we took time to recognize Missing and Murdered Indigneous Women and join the Calls for Justice.  

  • Human rights and Indigenous rights abuses and violations condoned by the  Canadian government have resulted in the denial of safety, security and human dignity. They are the root causes of the violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA. 
  • The Calls for Justice come from the National Enquiry –  Reclaiming Power and Place and call upon all Canadians and sectors to end systemic violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA. 

 FOOD SECURITY

  • Food Secure Canada has released its comments on the Federal Budget 2021. 
  • Meals2Motels: is a partnership to provide meals (hot and frozen) to individuals and families sheltering in motels (Owen Sound and Chatsworth). 
    • 92,840 meals have been delivered in the last year.
    • January 2021 was the busiest month with over 1,200 meals delivered. February was the largest single week with 370 meals delivered.  
    • 252 hampers with multi-purpose kettles were created and all but 39 pre-positioned/distributed at motels. 
    • On Fridays the people receive Friday’s supper (hot), Saturday lunch supper (cold) Sunday lunch and supper (frozen). 
    • On Mondays United Way staff make an extra run with a Monday lunch.
  • Many partners deliver this program – the YMCA Housing, M’Wikwedong and the Women’s Centre shelter people in motels and maintain a daily number. OSHaRE cooks and assembles meals, along with frozen meals prepared by the St Aiden’s Frozen Meal program. Habitat for Humanity (Apr to Nov 2020) and the United Way (Nov to now) deliver the food daily. 
  • Grey County funds the daily mileage cost and staffing costs have been covered by the partner organizations. 
  • For more information on this initiative: United Way of Bruce Grey 519-376-1560, Y-Housing Joan Chamney, 519-371-9230, OSHaRE Colleen Trask- Seaman, 519-376-3899. 
  • Good Food Box:  Hanover Good Food Box started up at John Diefenbaker Secondary School led by Dawn MacKay (dawn_mackay@bwdsb.on.ca). With the school closed they are working in partnership with the Salvation Army Hanover to provide a location. (see attached poster).    
  • The Sponsored Box program is underway. Agencies and community donations can pre-pay for boxes. When sponsored boxes are purchased, tokens are distributed. Tokens may be used by customers at any GFB location but they must submit their tokens in advance of pickup.  
  • Agencies interested in purchasing tokens or receiving community donations for their clients may contact gbgoodfoodbox@gmail.com
  • Donations to purchase Good Food Box tokens for households in need can be made through OSHaRE (gbgoodfoodbox@gmail.com). A $200 donation will provide a household with a monthly Good Food Box for 1 year. 

HEALTH EQUITY 

  • Frontline organizations in Ontario will soon have access to free, rapid, self-administered COVID-19 screening tests through a new program called Stop the Spread and Stay Safe. The program, run by the Canadian Red Cross in partnership with the Government of Canada, is now accepting pre-registration from organizations in Ontario. 
  • To qualify, organizations must be a charity or non-profit, or an Indigenous community organizations with five (5) personnel (staff and volunteers) who work in close proximity to each other or have direct contact with community members.

YOUTH AND MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS

  • Sick Kids-led study (Feb 2021) found more than 70% of children aged 2 to 18 years expressed feeling lonely, overwhelmed, sleepless, worried, sad, irritable, anxious or stressed during the first wave, with isolation posing a significant risk factor.
  • Education Minister Stephen Lecce is set to announce an $80 million fund for school boards to hire up to 1,000 additional mental health workers for the next two years. 
  • Tamarack has been supporting youth outcomes through its Youth Futures Initiative Tamarack Institute and the Government of Canada, through the Goal Getters program, have committed to a 5-year pan-Canadian project to develop collective impact and system-wide solutions for youth as they build and act upon plans for their future   

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 51

Dear Colleagues, 

Our community has come together, to keep it together under this Pandemic. One of the heartbreaking crises continuing to hit our community hard has been the increase of overdoses in the City of Owen Sound and other locations.  This Saturday, March 27th from 9am to 12:30pm the United Way, Safe ‘N Sound and Grey Bruce Public Health will be at the Owen Sound Farmer’s Market to create more awareness and to remember those we have lost. The public is invited to take a carnation, walk the block around the 8th and 9th Street bridges and then drop the flower into the river, to symbolize the loss of those who have died, gone permanently from our community. 

PLANNING AND SYSTEM CHANGE

  • We still have spaces for partners to join the The End of Poverty Summit – a nationwide gathering of poverty reduction organizations/cities hosted by Tamarack from 11am May 5th to 5pm May 6th, 2021. Learn more about the guest speakers and workshops at: https://events.tamarackcommunity.ca/the-end-of-poverty.  Contact Jill Umbach, povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com, if you are interested in attending this virtual summit. 
  • Plan the Bruce: Bruce County is looking for input as it begins work on a new Official Plan to guide development and growth for the next 25 years. There are currently input surveys open for Housing and Agriculture. You can also contact planthebruce@brucecounty.on.ca to ask about any project and/or provide input. 
  • The Bruce Grey Ontario Health Team has submitted its full application to the Ministry of Health and is now seeking community council advisors. http://ow.ly/HwkF50E3jJ8 

The Province has released Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. The 2021 Budget is the next phase of Ontario’s response to COVID-19 and is the second Budget the government has delivered during the pandemic. 

  • The 2021 Budget builds on the government’s record investments in response to the global pandemic, bringing total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people’s health and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.
  • Some HEALTH SUPPORTS include: 
    • A $175 million initiative will provide mental health and addiction supports including mobile clinics for rural communities. 
    • $2.1 million to support victims of crime and domestic abuse survivors. 
    • $1.6 million to address systemic racism.
    • $1 billion over 2 years for vaccine rollout, including $135 million already spent
    • Reiterates plans for hundreds of millions of dollars to build new long-term care beds and improve ventilation. 
    • $4.9 billion over 4 years for hiring 27,000 nurses and PSWs
    • Budget made no promise to retain the planned increase for front-line long-term care workers past June 2021; under review.  
    • Learn more about Ontario’s plan to protect people’s health.  
  • Some INCOME/EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS include: 
    • Extending existing grant program, offering $10,000 to $20,000 to about 120,000 affected businesses, for an additional $1.7 billion. 
    • An additional $400 million for tourism industry
    • New Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit for 2021. It would provide up to $2,000 per recipient for 50% of eligible expenses, for a total of an estimated $260 million in support to about 230,000 people in 2021.  
    • 3rd round of Ontario COVID19 Child Benefit with payments being doubled to $400 for children up to Grade 12 and $500 for children and youth under 21 who have special needs. 
    • Proposed 20% top up of CARE tax credit for childcare expenses to help families earning under $150,000. Will cost $75 million and will increase support from $1,250 to $1,500 on average/family
    • Task force to address women’s economic barriers will be created. 
    • $2.8 billion for province-wide reliable broadband services in all regions by 2025, part of an overall $4 billion investment. 
    • Learn more about Ontario’s plan to protect our economy.

INCOME/EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS 

  • The Federal government has extended COVID19 Benefits to support workers for longer. 
  • Getting Ahead: April 20th is first Getting Ahead for 2021 to be held in Owen Sound. It will be in-person with all the Public Health safety protocols. Individuals on Ontario Works (OW) or ODSP are eligible. People interested should contact their OW or ODSP worker for more info or to register.
  • Ontario Works shall move to a central intake through the Province on April 26th, 2021. A Vision for Social Assistance has been released by the government.

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • For people who are without transportation to access COVID19 vaccination clinics they can call the Public Health Unit Helpline at 519-376-9420, ext 3000 or call 211 and ask about transportation services.
    • MOVIN’GB will arrange transportation for individuals to COVID-19 vaccination clinics and waive the 48 hour requirement to schedule a ride (as long as resources are available to supply ride) Call 519-370-0558 or Intake: 519-372-2091. Email schedulers@hcssgreybruce.com 
  • GTR will start to take cash payment on March 29th, 2021. All riders are required to book their seat in advance, riders wishing to pay by Cash must book their ride over the phone at226-910-1001. Fares range from $5.00 to $3.00 (Adults with student/senior rates and children under 5 ride for free. 
  • GTR will be piloting a new Sauble Beach route from Friday to Monday starting in May to September for the tourism season. This will give an opportunity for employees and tourists to access affordable rides. 

HOUSING SUPPORT 

  • Bruce County is experiencing well-recognized and complex housing opportunities and challenges, influencing supply and demand of housing in the region. Give your input and help plan for the supply and mix of homes in Bruce County.  Good planning decisions now can have a positive impact on housing diversity and availability over the next 25 years. There is an Homes: A Guide to Giving Feedback to assist in providing input. 
  • YMCA Housing Stability Workers have been picking up Motel kits from United Way of Bruce Grey. These kits are given to people being provided shelter while they seek out permanent housing. With the rising cost of housing in our area we continue to see high numbers of people seeking assistance. 
  • Motels will be increasing their rates soon for the tourist season and housing services remain busy with trying to find permanent housing solutions. 
  • The Province has announced its new strategy to combat homelessness. The Grey Bruce Homeless Response Table currently has between 45-50 people on the By-Name list with 3 people recently housed. A point-in-time homeless enumeration will be carried out and completed by December 2021. 
  • North Bruce Peninsula has approved the formation of a Municipal Housing Task Force which starts in May 2021. 
  • The Women’s Centre of Bruce Grey will launch its Anti-HumanTrafficking Program on April 5th. Named, “Our Place”, the program is aimed at supporting youth victims and survivors of human trafficking in our community. The program will partner with community agencies to provide wrap-around victim support and will include an educational component for school-aged children that focuses on the signs of human trafficking to youth under 16 years of age.

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 21

Dear Colleagues, 

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.  

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • 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.
  • 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.

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • 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 

10 Engaging People with Lived/Living Experience

 

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force Coordinator Jill Umbach joined Tamarack Institute’s 10 Lived/Living Experience Advisory Committee in 2018 as part of the Vibrant Communities‘ multi-sectoral poverty reduction work.  Since 2013, members of our Community Voices have been working with the Poverty Task Force as an advisory committee made up of people with “grounded expertise”.  People with grounded expertise deeply understand the realities of poverty in Bruce and Grey Counties. Their stories and experiences serve as powerful tools for building compassion and for disrupting and clarifying a community’s understanding of its roots causes and scope.

Group of people reflecting people with lived experience being engaged.

Informed by the 10 Lived/Living Experience Advisory Committee and interviews with our Community Voices a Guide has been written to support poverty-reduction groups to meaningfully engage people with lived/living experience. It celebrates the potential that can be unlocked when these individuals are included and empowered to drive anti-poverty work.

10 – Engaging People with Lived/Living Experience includes:

  • 10 really good ideas for engaging people with lived/living experience;
  • 10 stories that inspire (including #10 story of our Community Voices)
  • 10 useful resources;
  • 10 ways to get started.

The Guide highlights leading practices, inspires new thinking, and serves as a reminder of how critical engagement of people with lived/living experience in poverty reduction truly is.

Take Your Learning Further (links to resources from Section 4):

   1.  Social Inclusion Policy: Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

   2.  A Guide to Creating a Culture of Inclusion: Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership

   3.  Toronto Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG): Application Form

   4.  A Case Study in Authentic Engagement: Poverty Solutions Halifax

   5.  First Voice Protocol: EndPovertyEdmonton

   6.  Creating Community: Hastings Prince Edward Poverty Roundtable

   7.  Lived Experience as Expertise: Regional Municipality of Waterloo

   8.  Nothing About Us Without Us: Lived Experience Advisory Council

   9.  Lived Experience in Paid Staff Roles: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (recording available here)

  10. Rights-Based Participation and Accountability in Canada’s National Housing Strategy