International Human Rights Day was on Friday, December 10th last week. The Day is a reminder that overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. (Nelson Mandela)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that each person is entitled to certain fundamental rights: the right to life; liberty; equality; and security. In Canada, we have also legislated the right to housing, food, income security and equity.
Taking a human rights approach to our work on poverty changes the way we work. It directs us to share a vision of what human dignity looks like for ourselves and our neighbours. This was a large part of a recent Vital Signs Conversation on Housing hosted by the Community Foundation of Grey Bruce on Thursday, Dec 9th. We do require a mind shift. Not, some people are lucky or deserving of a home, but all people “have a right to a home”.
- Emergency Housing over the holidays: Emergency phone line is open but Safe N Sound will be closed on Dec 25th, 27th and 28th. Contact 211 to verify the hours for housing service providers and other support organization.
- Homelessness Coordinated Access System: has updated referral documents for the By Names List. Simcoe County has prepared 2 videos on What is a Coordinated Access System? and What is a By Names List? Contact Caitlin Currie, Homelessness Response Coordinator, Caitlin.Currie@grey.ca for what we are doing in Grey and Bruce Counties.
- Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario: tenants who have a Notice of Hearing from the Landlord and Tenant Board, can sign up to receive a call back from aTenant Duty Counsel in your area before your hearing.
- The City of Owen Sound undertook a Citizen Satisfaction Survey in the summer of 2021 These findings form the starting point in the development of the advocacy priorities for 2022 and 2023. The top 5 advocacy priorities are: Affordable housing, cost of living, homelessness; COVID-19, Health including public health and mental health, Employment and workforce development and Climate Action. They also prioritized the development of a Regional Comprehensive Transportation Plan for Georgian Bay and the Bruce Peninsula. For more information, please contact Tim Simmonds, City Manager at 519-376-4440 ext. 1210 or email to email@example.com
PANDEMIC RELATED SUPPORTS
- Sanitation Supplies: The United Way has a selection of 50ml tubes of hand sanitizer, 100 tubes per box and boxes of Lysol wipes (6 packages per box) available for pick up in Owen Sound. If you are interested, email Misty@unitedwaybg.com
- Enhanced Vaccine Certificate: as of Jan 4, 2022, the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code will be needed in certain settings.
- Download it at covid19.ontariohealth.ca
- Get it printed at a library or Service Ontario Centre.
- Call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to get it mailed.
- Saugeen First Nation: has a Photovoice Series as part of a First Nation Wellness Initiative. Several videos promote mental wellness under the pandemic. Video 3, Video 4 and Video 5.
- CDAS Opioid Working Group: Preliminary data shows that there have been 31 deaths between June 2020 to June 2021. This is a significant increase over the 12 deaths from June 2019 to June 2020.
- With the ongoing opioid crisis being worsened by the Pandemic, we need to be aware of benzodiazepines and nitazene opioids in the unregulated drug supply in Ontario. Naloxone kits are very effective with overdoses but will not reverse the effects of these drugs. However, it can assist in keeping people breathing until they can get to hospital.
- Naloxone Kits: please understand that they can not be used if they have been frozen. So if you are seeing them where people camp outside or if they are left in a car in the winter, please get them replaced or give out new ones. Contact: Bailey Ressler, B.Ressler@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.
- Sharps Pilot Report: 56,706 sharps (needles) were returned to Safe N Sound under a 18th month Sharps pilot program with the United Way of BG. People obtained a $5-10 gift card in exchange based on the size of their container.
- Safe N Sound ID Clinic/Income Tax Clinic: in partnership with CMHA-GB, the United Way and South East Grey CHC to offer a free Income Tax Clinic. It is estimated 1 in 10 people coming into Safe N Sound don’t have their taxes done or ID. Clinics will be held on January 11th and 25th, 2022.
- Federal Budget: the government announced one-time payments to alleviate financial hardship of Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Allowance recipients who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) in 2020.
- However, in the technical briefing, it states it will calculate this payment on an individual basis and reimburse them starting in May 2022. We will need to continue to support seniors through the winter and all the issues the pandemic raises.
- Students who received the CERB but were found ineligible, will receive debt cancellation pending eligibility for the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit. FYI. This Benefit is closed to new applications.
- Campaign 2000 continues to advocate that compensation must now be expanded to include anyone living on low incomes who had other income benefits reduced, including people on social and disability assistance, and those who saw their workers benefit, child benefits and housing supplements reduced.
- Campaign 2000 also recommends the reinstatement of the Canada Recovery Benefit for individuals whose working hours are still impacted by the pandemic into Bill C-2.
- Campaign 2000 encourages the federal government to make their decisions align with their commitments to reducing poverty. This includes dealing with the technical and design elements of benefits, which resulted in these kinds of negative benefit interactions. This would mean that the promised repayment to seniors should be made as a refundable credit so that it does not interfere with payments, in addition to making pandemic benefits deductible on the GIS income form.
FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS
- Holiday Meals: 211 has a list of all Holiday community meal programs, hampers and food programs.
- WRAP Mental Health: has developed a Loneliness Workbook. The content comes from a study of nearly 100 people and their strategies for relieving their own loneliness.
- PROOF has released its A Look Back at 10 Years of PROOF Reframing discussions to recognize food insecurity as an indicator of pervasive material hardship, and therefore a way for measuring success in poverty reduction shifts the policy focus to underlying problems of income inadequacy.
- FoodBruceGrey.com: collects Grey Bruce food insecurity data which reflects the level of hardships people are experiencing locally.
- 15,559 meals were distributed in November 2021. 166,763 meals have been distributed since January 2021. (11 out of 16 programs reporting)
- 14,015 households (18,169 people) were supported at 19 out of 20 Food Banks.
Stay well, Jill