Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 104

Election Education # 6

This week is Truth and Reconciliation Week and Sept 30th is Orange Shirt Day and National Day of Truth & Reconciliation. Our municipal leaders are responsible for taking leadership on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. 

  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission: we encourage you to take the time to reflect, listen, and learn about the Calls to Action 
  • The Nawash Ezhiwebag has a listing of Truth and Reconciliation Day ceremonies and activities happening at Neyaashiinigming First Nation. 
  • Saugeen First Nation also has a full day of events planned in partnership with GC Huston Public School including a  Zgaa-biig-ni-gaan renewal ceremony (11am) and events with various programs in the afternoon.  They will have booths on site during the day. Their focus of the day is “Our Children – Past, Present and Future”.  They are looking at what is needed today and moving into the next 7 generations to ensure the safety, protection, good health and wellbeing of their children and further, the support of the families.
  • M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre will be supporting a ceremony at the Giichi-Name-Wiiwedong Reconciliation Gardens. 
  • Many municipalities, towns, schools and libraries are holding events this week and on Friday.

Housing remains a critical municipal election issue as municipalities play an important role in facilitating the development of affordable rental housing. We have updated the Poverty, Voting and Election page with recent reports and questions for candidates and voters to consider: 

  • The Municipal Role in Housing studies (Munk School, 2022) emphasizes the role of municipalities in setting zoning policies and approval processes that can help meet the need for housing in their regions.
  • Grey County has announced updates to its official plan.  Some of the changes include allowing for more Additional Residential Units (ARUs) in existing dwellings, as well as a separate structure on a property. Currently, you can have one or the other, not both. This would allow for tiny homes, employee housing and co-housing.
  • Bruce County Housing announced a new Municipal Housing Allowance program that enhances housing security and helps vulnerable residents maintain their rental units.
  • Grey County Affordable Housing Task Force September report on surplus public land available for housing. 
  • Grey County Housing launched its new Short Term Shelter Program effective Sept 21st, 2022. Contact 211 for intake if someone is or at risk of being homeless. 
  • Welcoming Communities Grey Bruce poses 5 questions for candidates and voters to consider. Municipal councils can ensure their local policies and programs do not discriminate against people with diverse backgrounds and can set the tone through welcoming and inclusive policy initiatives.

What is your candidates’ strategy to address housing & homelessness? 

Councils play a role in the public messaging on how to show respect and compassion for people who are experiencing homelessness. We encourage you to look up candidates in your municipality and ask about their position on housing & homelessness. 

  • 34 Mayoral candidates are running and 4 have been acclaimed. Many candidates are publishing their housing plans as part of their platform.  For example, Ottawa Mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney proposes building vibrant, mixed-income neighbourhoods that offer affordable housing in her Plan for Housing Affordability. https://www.mckenney2022.ca/housing
  • Rebound Owen Sound and NDP party members took action in front of the City Hall of Owen Sound and posed questions to the current council on their housing strategy.  
  • Grey County Life/Rogers TV: we recently spoke with Grey County Life about housing & homelessness as an election issue and the launch of the RentSafe Tenant Survey.  Go to the 10 minute mark for the interview. As of Sept 26th, 547 people have completed the survey. 

Representation on the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force

The Poverty Task Force has been coming together for 10 years to collectively address poverty-related issues across Bruce County and Grey County. We have benefited from the leadership and core support of both Counties. We have had many Wardens, Mayors and Councillors actively involved. Recently the City of Owen Sound passed a motion to have a permanent representative to the Poverty Task Force. This is another way for our discussions to be formally reported to the Council and the public. 

When complex issues such as homelessness are very visible in our communities, we must work together to reduce the Not-In-My-Backyard approach and look at our local responsibilities. Everyone deserves a safe home and access to services where they choose to live. 


Some debates have already taken place in communities such as Kincardine, Lion’s Head, Meaford and Wiarton but here are more coming up! 

  • Ayton – Thurs, Sept.29, 7 pm,  Normanby Arena Auditorium, Ayton hosted by
  • Kemble – Wed, Sept 28, 7pm, Kemble United Church
  • Mennonite Corners – Oct 4th, 7pm, Canadian Reformed Church 
  • Meaford – Thurs, Sept 29,  7pm, (for Mayor, School Board Trustees),  Bognor Hall,  Bognor 
  • Owen Sound – Thurs, Sept 29, 6pm – Meet the Candidates, 7pm – Debate, Bayshore Community Centre, Owen Sound
  • Shallow Lake – Oct 12, 7pm, Shallow Lake United Church – hosted by Georgian Bluffs Climate Change Action Team
  • Tobermory – Thurs, Oct  6, 7pm,. Tobermory Community Centre, Tobermory
  • Walkerton – Wed, Sept 28,  7:30 pm, Victoria Jubilee Hall, Walkerton


Many libraries and other outreach services are offering support to voters:

  • The SOS Mobile Outreach will be at the Owen Sound Farmers’ Market on Oct 5th, 1-4pm.  The City Elections team will be attending to assist people to register to vote. 
  • Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library: offers computers to vote online. Staff will take a confidentiality oath to allow them to assist people to vote online. 
  • Simply Voting has released an instructional video for those municipalities voting by phone or online. 
  • Date of birth is critical to register to vote. If a voter gets a letter with a warning of an incomplete date of birth they will need to contact their election help desk. 

Stay well, Jill

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update #97

Dear Colleagues, 

Healing is different for everyone. Healing and reconciliation is a long journey for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. For many Elders, an apology from the Catholic Church is following through on the Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action # 58. 

The Honourable Murray Sinclair has said that Truth & Reconciliation is “not just a part of who we are as Survivors, it’s a part of who we are as a Nation.” For all, it is a painful reminder of human rights abuses committed by the Church and by Canada. The Papal visit is just one piece, one step in the healing and reconciliation journey. 

  • Truth & Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #58 specifically calls upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.  
  • Pope Francis delivered this apology on the unceded territory at the former Erminesikin Residential School in Maskwascis, Alberta on July 25th, 2022.
  • Prime Minister Trudeau’s statement spoke to reconciliation as a responsibility of all Canadians. “It is our responsibility to be open, to listen, and to share. It is our responsibility to see our differences not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to learn, to better understand one another, and to take action.”    
  • Walking Together provides details on the Pope’s visit this week. Translations of events are being provided in 12 Indigenous languages. CBC News provided coverage of Monday’s event. 
  • Many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people are advocating for the Pope to go beyond the apology – to release residential school records, artifacts and renounce the Document of Discovery.  As Canadians we must recognize the genocide that has taken place – not only through the residential schools but the day schools as well. 

Indigenous people hold up a banner of the names of children who died in residential schools for Pope Francis during his visit.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • If you need someone to talk to, the National Residential School Crisis Line offers emotional support and crisis referral services for residential school Survivors and their families. Call the toll-free Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line also offers support to all Indigenous Peoples. Counsellors are available by phone or online chat. This service is available in English and French, and, upon request, in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.

Connect with people at M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre at their monthly Community Fires or attend upcoming summer Pow Wows at Saugeen First Nation or Neyaashiingmiing First Nation.  

Stay well, Jill 

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.


  • 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.  


  • 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.


  • 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. 


  • 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


  • 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.  


  • 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. 


  • 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. 


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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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