Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 80

Dear Colleagues, 

Can you handle one or two more reports that say you’re tired? That you are COVID19 fatigued? That people are hungry? That people are challenged to keep their jobs? 

  • 13% of people over age 15 and older reported being always or often lonely in Statistic Canada‘s latest report – Loneliness in Canada.
  • Feed Ontario released its Hunger Report 2021.  An overall 10% increase has been seen in the use of the food banks in Ontario. However, less than 1% of clients who accessed food banks were receiving CERB
  • Poverty in the Midst of Plenty A report card on child and family poverty in Ontario, Campaign 2000.   At a basic level, everyone living in poverty has one thing in common: they don’t have enough money. Higher income is the main ingredient in any recipe for ending poverty in Ontario
  • FoodBruceGrey.com shows a 300% increase in the use of community meal programs. Numbers served are not decreasing this winter but we are hitting the maximum capacity of organizations to meet the demand. 
  • Auditor’s General Report 2021:: According to yesterday’s Auditor General report, about 9,600 Ontarians experience ‘visible’ homelessness each night. Throughout the year, that number jumps to 90,000. In reality the number of Ontarians experiencing homelessness is much higher, as 80% experience ‘hidden’ homelessness, sleeping in abandoned buildings or camping under bridges and in remote locations.
  • Service Canada says employees are not eligible for regular benefits, including Employment Insurance, if you are fired because you didn’t follow your employer’s mandatory vaccine policy. This could be a policy your employer chose to make, or one the government said your employer must have.
  • $10/day Child Care: Still no deal between provincial and federal government  on $10/day child care. P2P Huron-Perth shared this article on why it is needed: COVID-19 is Not “Women’s Work”: The Case for Universal Childcare

While the CERB was seen as “doing its job” for a short period of time we know that going into 2022, it is essential that strong income security and affordability solutions need to be implemented. 

Addressing housing affordability is critical to an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As well, we need an increase to social assistance rates, amendments to the Employment Standards Act to ensure that employment conditions are safe and secure and that jobs pay a living wage, and ensure that people with lived experience are centered and involved in policy design that directly impacts their lives. 

So what is some good news! 

  • M’Wikwedong IFC Youth Council: are seeking Indigenous Youth in Grey and Bruce Counties to get involved and support Indigenous Youth Voices. Email youthcouncil@mwikwedong.com 
  • Maam Wiim Win Native Homes: Indigenous Housing Support Program renovated a new supportive housing location and housed people in 2 units. M’Wikwedong IFC court worker, addiction support worker and housing support worker will provide support.  
  • Child Activity Assistance Program (CAAP): Bruce County and Grey County support families with an income under $30,000 for cultural, school or sports activities that can’t access Jump Start
  • YMCA Employment has an online booking option for meeting with an Employment Advisor, Job Developer, Adult Learning Centre staff and to book computer time. Available for the Owen Sound office as it is a new system, then it will move to other locations. 
  • Employment Services: clients who lose their jobs because they are unvaccinated, may not be eligible for Employment Insurance. Steps to Justice has some information on what to do to determine if this is the case.
  • Ontario Works: If people are not eligible for EI, they can apply for Ontario Works. Ontario Works caseworker can also connect people with additional resources to help at Grey County and Bruce County. The fastest way to apply is online.
  • United Way Financial Literacy Support:can be provided to analyze a person’s financial situation and access income supports.Contact Caroline Araujo-Abbots at advice@unitedwaybg.com or 519-376-1560. 
  • Worker Income Protection Benefit Program: the Ontario government is extending the program which provides paid sick days until July 31, 2022.  
  • Bruce Power: $81,000 worth of grocery gift cards is being distributed to more than 38  community food banks/meals/cupboards and children’s services.  1,500 toboggans went out to the Toy Drive this week. 
  • CFOS Christmas broadcast: 23 local charities will receive funds for Christmas support. 
  • United Way “Thank an Educator” Campaign:  people can sponsor a fully stocked backpack in honour of a special educator. For more information visit www.ThankAnEducator.ca or call 519-376-1560. To learn more about the Backpack Program, please visit www.Backpacks4Kids.ca.
  • Backpack Program: To access the Backpack Program during the school year, please contact the United Way office at 519-376-1560.
  • Bruce County Dorrell Young Fund: provides a gift for children and teenagers whose families are struggling and are served by Bruce County Human Services. To register contact  1-800-265-3005 or 519-881-0431 orHumanServicesAdministrativeSupport@brucecounty.on.ca
  • Food Bruce Grey.com was recognized as one of 3 finalists for their Community Innovation Award of the Pillar Foundation. See the video for the award prepared by Gotham Studios. 
  • Aha Process has released its 5th Edition of Bridges Out of Poverty. There is a new section on Policy Lens. This chapter features new scenarios from Getting Ahead graduates and more in the institutional and community section. 

Stay well, Jill