Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 87

Dear Colleagues,

Waiting for an apology can be a thorn in a healing process. More than 6 years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published Call to Action # 58, there is an apology from the Pope. And while the Pope has apologized for the “deplorable conduct” of members of the Catholic Church, there remains a lot of work to be done to heal. Calls from Indigenous leaders, including the Honourable Murray Sinclair say that stories of residential school Survivors must be integrated into Church services and Sunday schools. It was a great injustice that all people must learn from.

  • Education on Residential Schools funding: The Ontario government is providing $412,500 to support the Anishinabek Nation with a range of initiatives to educate and inform the public about the history and legacy of the Indian Residential School (IRS) System in its territory, and to help Survivors living in the 39 Anishinabek Nation member First Nations share their stories.
  • M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre: is offering monthly Community Fires for teachings, community and a meal.

MENTAL HEALTH  & ADDICTION SUPPORT

  • Grey Bruce Bayview Wellness Centre: the Ontario government announced on Friday, April 1st it is investing $6 million through the new Addictions Recovery Fund to immediately enhance access to addictions treatment support in Grey Bruce. This investment will fund 14 addiction treatment beds, 12 withdrawal management beds and 10 supportive treatment beds at GBHS. This funding will support the addition of immediate new beds and the creation of a new regional wellness centre.
  • SHARPS Pilot Program:  Since June 2020, over 65,600 sharps have been returned to Safe N Sound.  The United Way provided gift cards to participants for returning full containers. In January 2022, the program expanded to Saugeen First Nation.  

INCOME SUPPORT

  • Tuition freeze: The Ontario government has announced it is extending the current tuition freeze for colleges and universities by an additional year, through 2022-2023, providing financial relief and predictability for students and families seeking access to affordable postsecondary education.  Students enrolled in a university undergraduate arts and science degree will pay an average of $660 less in tuition. 
  • Affordable Child Care Agreement:  Ontario and Canada have signed a $13.2 billion agreement that will lower fees for families and deliver an average of $10 a day child care by September 2025. Parent rebates, retroactive to April 1, will begin in May.
  • The government will maintain the Ontario Child Care Tax Credit program for expenses for licensed and unlicensed child care. 
  • Challenges still remain for Grey Bruce to hire new early childhood educators. The government announced it will support improved compensation for all Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) working in licensed child care.

INTERNET SUPPORT

  • High Speed Internet: The governments of Canada and Ontario announced funding to support construction of new broadband infrastructure for 4,300 homes, farms and businesses in Bruce County by December 2022 and 1,800 in Grey County by November 2022. 
  • Free Wireless: the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library announced it will loan wireless hot-spot sticks, which provide free Internet access, to library members in April 2022. The Library also  has Amazon Fire Tablets and Chrome books for borrowing. Other libraries, including Meaford and Thornbury libraries have wifi lending programs which include equipment and wifi sticks. 

HOUSING SUPPORT

  • Safe N Sound new hours: Mon, Wed, Thurs and Fri 9am to 3pm, Tues- 9 am – 2pm, Sat 10am – 5:30pm, Sun – CLOSED. No evenings until November 2022. But now it is open on Saturdays. 
  • Bruce Power Housing Advocacy:  a letter has been sent to the Honourable Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, Ahmed Hussen speaking to the need to address urgent issues for rural communities.  They asked to accelerate policy and financial commitments to address rural housing affordability by partnering with our region to accelerate these investments beginning in Budget 2022. 
  • Grey Bruce Coordinated Access/By Names List:  As of March 31st, 2022 there were 153 active individuals on the list. In March, 9 people moved to inactive (they left the area, passed away or lost contact), 11 people returned from inactive and 45 new individuals were identified. Numbers continue to grow as partners get more comfortable working within a coordinated system. 
  • The Future of Housing in Huron Perth: the Social Research and Planning Council of Huron-Perth and United Way of Huron Perth released a new report The Future of Housing

HEALTH EQUITY

  • Portable Benefits Advisory Consultation: The Ontario government announced it is examining how to expand benefits (health, dental and vision care) to more workers, even if they change jobs. Members of the Portable Benefits Advisory Panel will conduct research and consultations to recommend the design and implementation of a new plan that will cover millions of precarious workers in various sectors. A final report is expected by Summer 2023.
  • Coalition for Dentalcare has created a new series of posters to raise awareness for access to dental care during April – Oral Health Month.  

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORT

  • Love You No Matter What Tailgate Soup Kitchen will close at the end of April and resume in the fall of 2022. It will operate throughout the winter of 2023. This week they served 45 meals. 

Stay well, Jill  

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 77

Dear Colleagues,

Truth and Reconciliation Week might be over, but the work of reconciliation happens every day. To hear more truths from Survivors, Elders and Knowledge Keepers about the residential school system and its effects, visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website and listen to the testimonials collected.  

Take further reflection on Indigenous Perspectives on Poverty Reduction (Tamarack Institute webinar recording) and “Ending Poverty Pathways: Indigenous Poverty” (Tamarack Institute podcast episode) which feature several national and local Indigenous leaders, including Giiwe’s Diane Giroux and Carlos Sanchez-Pimienta. These recordings highlight the imperative of addressing racism and building Indigenous self-determination to reduce poverty. 

RECONCILIATION BEGINS WITH YOU

  • The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund have launched  a video series called Reconciliation Begins With You featuring young Indigenous artists who remind us of the importance of reconciliation.    
  • Grey Bruce Community Legal Clinic: Joss Ann Johnston is offering assistance with Indian Day School Settlement Applications.It can be very helpful to have someone with a legal background assist you.  Appointments can be arranged through phone at 519-534-0373.
  • SOAHAC‘s mental health team is also available to provide support during these applications and hold space for you after you have completed them as well. Contact them at (519) 376-5508. 

INCOME & EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS

The Ontario government has released A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Termwhich outlines the province’s gradual approach to lifting remaining public health and workplace safety measures by March 2022. The plan will be guided by the ongoing assessment of key public health and health care indicators and supported by local or regional tailored responses to COVID-19.

  • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will expire on October 23rd and will be replaced by a new targeted benefit known as the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit that will run until May 7, 2022 (retroactive to October 24, 2021).  
  • Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit will be for those whose work is directly impacted by government-imposed lockdowns and will provide $300 a week to eligible workers.
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will remain in place until the same time and are being extended by two weeks – moving the sickness benefit from 4 to 6 weeks and the caregiving benefit from 42 to 44 weeks.
  • Community Legal Aid Ontario (CLEO):CLEO has updated and new information about the law and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • GIS/CERB Clawback for Seniors: clarification has been received from the government on why some seniors are experiencing clawback. Seniors who were employed by a company and claimed CERB through Service Canada will not be subject to clawback. However, those who were independently employed and filed through the CRA directly are subject to clawback. We have seen the impact of the clawback resulting in loss of GIS and portable housing benefits for seniors. 
  • The Poverty Task Force has joined over 100 organizations and the Income Security Advocacy Centre in sending a joint letter to the government requesting GIS be restored to low income seniors. 
  • The government has proposed new legislation for workers. Ontario may become the first jurisdiction in Canada to require employers with 25 employees or more to develop disconnecting from work policies.  
  • These workplace policies could include, for example, expectations about response time for emails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working.
  • Measures proposed earlier this month will also be part of this legislation. This includes making it easier for internationally-trained individuals to practice in regulated professions, protecting vulnerable workers by establishing a licensing framework for recruiters and temporary help agenciesensuring washroom access for delivery workers by requiring business owners to allow them to use the washrooms at the businesses they serve, and supporting businesses who continue to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19. 
  • Many of the proposed changes were informed by the recommendations made by the experts of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, based on their consultations with workers, employers, and unions. 
  • Internet Access: The Ontario government is providing nearly $1.5 million to help bring high-speed internet access to more than 900 homes and businesses across the province  The funding is being delivered through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program and will help bring high-speed internet access to several areas including Saugeen Shores and Kincardine.
  • West Grey Public Library is working with It’s Personal.Period. to offer menstrual products without charge at our branches in Durham, Ayton and Neustadt.  They are also working with the Durham Foodland, to set up a donation box there, and with the Durham Food Bank, to arrange delivery of any excess product donations by our patrons and visitors.

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Indigenous Housing Support Program: on Thursdays staff from M’Wikwedong IFC will be based out of 854 2nd Ave East aka the Housing Outreach Wellness (HOW) Centre (everyone just calls it “854”). to provide access and support. Contact the IHSP team at 519-375-1468. 
  • Other services at HOW/854 include the CMHA Outreach Team that are on site daily and Grey Bruce Health Services Mental Health Team who run a drop-in clinic on Mondays from 1-3pm.
  • YMCA Housing: 140 people are housed in motels in October for a total cost of 600 nights. 6,500 nights were paid for in the first 6 months of this year. The YMCA has now dedicated 1 full-time staff person to be a Landlord Outreach Worker.  
  • Bruce County and Grey County Homelessness Enumeration: chronic homelessness was high amongst the people interviewed during the survey this year. Some 200 people were interviewed and the numbers are still to be confirmed. A report will go to both County councils in 2022.  
  • The Women’s Centre and Women’s House areback to full capacity under the government’s COVID guidelines. However, the Women’s House is full and people are on wait lists. But people should still call and will be helped or housed elsewhere. The Women’s Centre has opened up some new space with renovations happening to accomodate more people. 
  • The Ontario Energy Board has announced no changes to electricity prices for households and small businesses.  
  • Electricity and gas distributors are banned from disconnecting residential customers for non-payment from November 15 to April 30. Electricity and gas distributors have until December 1 to reconnect residential customers who were disconnected for non-payment before November 15. 
  • Housing partners have seen very high hydro bills in arrears. This may be a result of disconnection bans which have allowed for accumulation for those who have not contributed to bill payments. 
  • Winter Community Emergency Shelter information is being updated but the main contact information from 2020 is valid. Please note the following change for 2021: 
    • Safe N Sound will be offering an evening (5pm-9:30pm) warming station Monday to Saturday with peer support/life skills programming. 
    • Hanover Missionary Church will be offering a warming station on Thursdays, 11:30am-1:30pm.
  • Rentsafe Landlord Survey has been extended to November 15th. Please share out widely with landlords you work with and encourage them to complete this survey. https://www.surveymonkey.ca/r/NCLWY3M

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • Eat Local Grey Bruce is currently researching product price comparison. We would like to further investigate this topic and are calling on volunteers from all of our member regions to gather pricing data. If you’re interested, please contact Jeannine Kralt, elgbwarehouse@gmail.com.

HEALTH EQUITY SUPPORTS

  • The Health Outreach C.A.R.E. has begun in Owen Sound and continues in Hanover on alternative weeks. Posters are issued weekly. Please post. 

Stay well, Jill