Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 35

Dear Colleagues, 

National Child Day is Friday November 20, 2020. 

National Child Day is celebrated in recognition of Canada’s commitment to upholding the rights of children and two historic events: the 1959 signing of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.  

It is appropriate that in 2020 the Grey Bruce We C.A.R.E Project launches their COVID19sucks.ca “Let’s Talk About It” series of virtual talks.   COVIDsucks has been designed to help process losses and challenges experienced by students under COVID19. The goal of this new initiative is to:  

  • Provide a safe space to reflect and express
  • Offer a variety of verbal and nonverbal ways to interact
  • Learn new strategies to develop personal resilience and self leadership
  • Increase personal wellness
  • Build stronger social connections.

This initiative is possible through funding by the United Way of Bruce Grey and is facilitated by Ledge Leadership. To learn more, please visit covid19sucks.ca, follow on Instagram or Facebook.  

  • The Grey Bruce ‘We C.A.R.E’ Project is an initiative of community agencies and school boards who recognize the importance of working together toward the common goal of increasing and enhancing community capacity and mobilization around the promotion of youth mental health and prevention of youth suicide.  A 2018 Report Mental Health Challenges Amongst Youth in Grey Bruce is even more relevant under the pandemic. 
  • The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute is hosting a free webinar, Child Anxiety During a Pandemic- Helping Them Cope on Friday, November 20th from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Dr. Madhav Sarda is a Child Psychiatrist based in Saskatoon. Dr. Sarda speaks about child anxiety in a way that we all can relate to and understand. 
  • There is no fee for this webinar. Registration required. For more information and/or to register, please visit: https://skprevention.ca/event/child-anxiety-during-a-pandemic-helping-them-cope/ 
  • The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health  hosted a webinar with Children’s Mental Health Ontario discussing the province-wide virtual care evaluation conducted to find out what’s working, what’s not and how agencies and service providers can improve virtual services. The recording is now available: https://bit.ly/3lagi7Q 
  • COVID 19 IMPACT Survey: The Four County Labour Market Planning Board serving Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth survey is open until 30 November 2020. We are encouraging organizations to have their customers complete this online survey. surveymonkey.com/R/FCLMPBCOVIDIMPACT  


  • The Winter Disconnection Ban started 15 Nov 2020.  
    • 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 1st to reconnect residential customers who were disconnected for non-payment before November 15. 
    • Electricity distributors may not install load control devices (devices that limit how much electricity is supplied to a home) on homes from November 15 to April 30. 
    • Electricity and gas distributors can continue to charge late payment fees on past due amounts during the winter disconnection ban period. 
    • It’s your responsibility to pay your electricity or natural gas bill on time.  We recommend making regular payments throughout the ban.   If you can’t, the most important thing to do is to stay in contact with your electricity or gas distributor and make payment arrangements, or see if you qualify for financial assistance. 
    • For more information on assistance programs for low income families, please visit: https://www.oeb.ca/rates-and-your-bill/help-low-income-consumers  
    • For more information about the United Way of Bruce Grey Utility Assistance program, please visit: https://unitedwayofbrucegrey.com/services-offered/utility-assistance-program/ 
    • To learn more about energy savings and upgrades that may help reduce high energy bills, please visit: ttps://unitedwayofbrucegrey.com/services-offered/energy-assistance-pilot-project/ 
    • For all other utility related assistance programs, please call 211 to learn about programs that may be available in your area. 



  • Community Food Programs experienced their highest numbers in October and numbers are increasing at food banks and meal programs as we move into winter.  Close to 100,000 meals have been distributed. 
  • Contact 211 for the latest plans for Christmas hampers, toy drives and Christmas meals. Most programs require advance registration. 
  • Keeping Not-For-Profits Connected During COVID19 have been actively distributing foodrescue.ca donated food via OSHaRE and emergency boxes from Feed Ontario via The Salvation Army Owen Sound. 
  • The Grey Bruce School Nutrition Program continues to seek funding and food donations for “Grab & Go” bags. Contact Bev Gateman, 519-364-5820 x 191.
  • The Food Policy Council of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington is seeking support to  endorse Bill 216 Amendment to Food Literacy for Students Act  Currently it is optional for schools to consider school gardens and food literacy programs. This bill would make it mandatory for schools to create garden programs and offer food literacy in Grades 1-12. Our Food Security Action Group reviewed this request and felt this was something we supported.  Individual organizations are asked to send letters of support to the Food Policy Council, Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force and your MPP. 

Stay well, Jill 

Rural Homeless Enumeration 2018

full length of man sitting outdoors

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In April of 2018, Bruce County and Grey County each conducted a homelessness enumeration using a Period Prevalence Count (PPC) methodology in their respective counties.

The problem of homelessness is most often associated with urban communities, however, a growing body of research over the past 15 years has shown that the problem is also prevalent in rural Canada. The size and the dynamics of the problem in these rural areas is still largely unknown, in part because of unique problems that
rural areas pose for data collection. Rural areas often have fewer services geared towards people experiencing homelessness and the services that are available often serve a large geographical region.

A recent study conducted in rural and northern Ontario found that only 32 percent of service providers in these regions are able to keep ongoing records of their at-risk and homeless populations. This problem is compounded by the fact that rural areas tend to have smaller populations spread out over relatively large geographic regions, making it more difficult to locate those who sleep rough or stay in unsafe dwellings.

The homelessness enumeration was the first of its kind to be conducted in Bruce County and Grey County – the result of a mandate set by the provincial government in 2016 with the passage of the Promoting Affordable Housing Act and the commitment to end chronic homelessness by 2025.

Beginning in 2018, all Ontario municipalities are required to conduct a homeless enumeration every two years with the goals of:

  • Improving community awareness and understanding of homelessness;
  • Helping to monitor and assess developing trends over time;
  • Providing a method through which to measure progress; and
  • Strengthening efforts to end homelessness.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force Housing Action Group identified organizations across the two counties that work with people experiencing homelessness as hub sites where enumerators would be located to conduct surveys. Front line social service workers were provided enumeration training on the survey tool, empathy training and information on services/programs available for people experiencing homelessness.


Bruce County: over the course of the enumeration week, a total of 17 individuals experiencing homelessness were counted in Bruce County. Eleven of them completed questionnaires.  Read more in the full report: 2018 Homeless Enumeration – Bruce County.

Grey County: over the course of the week 33 individuals identified as experiencing homelessness and 29 completed the survey.  Read more in the full report to council.

Next Steps

The results are large enough to demonstrate homelessness exists in Grey County and Bruce County. Although the results presented are not generalizable to both counties’ population, they are sufficient to demonstrate that homelessness is a socioeconomic problem in Bruce County and Grey County.  The results suggests avenues for further study, particularly in regards to youth and seniors’ homelessness.

These results will be used in the consultation sessions for the update to Bruce County’s Long-Term Housing Strategy and Grey County’s 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plan.


Stepping Up – A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario’s Youth Succeed

Stepping Up is a first-of-its-kind framework developed by the Government of Ontario to help guide, focus and maximize our collaborative actions to support young people.

Stepping Up defines what we believe matters most to our young people. It describes what we are already doing to support them and what we can accomplish by working better together.

Stepping Up is an evidence based framework, developed through existing research on youth development and in consultation across government and with young people and their allies. It builds on past consultations and recommendations from a range of reports and initiatives.

Stepping Up articulates the government’s sustained commitment to supporting the well-being of Ontario’s youth. Stepping Up’s vision, guiding principles and priority outcomes will influence how the government develops policies and designs programs relating to youth.

Stepping Up is also a call to action for those that look out for the well-being of young people in Ontario. It has been developed so that young people themselves, families, governments, foundations, philanthropic organizations, public agencies, charities, community organizations and private businesses can identify ways to help youth succeed.

Themes & Priority Outcomes

Health & Wellness
1 Ontario youth are physically healthy.
2 Ontario youth feel mentally well.
3 Ontario youth make choices that support healthy and safe development.

Strong, Supportive Friends & Families
4 Ontario youth have families and guardians equipped to help them thrive.
5 Ontario youth have at least one consistent, caring adult in their lives.
6 Ontario youth form and maintain healthy, close relationships.

Education, Training & Apprenticeships
7 Ontario youth achieve academic success.
8 Ontario youth have educational experiences that respond to their needs and prepare them to lead.
9 Ontario youth access diverse training and apprenticeship opportunities.

Employment & Entrepreneurship
10 Ontario youth have opportunities for meaningful employment experiences.
11 Ontario youth have the skills and resources needed to develop a successful career or business.
12 Ontario youth are safe and supported at work.

Diversity, Social Inclusion & Safety
13 Ontario youth experience social inclusion and value diversity.
14 Ontario youth feel safe at home, at school, online and in their communities.
15 Ontario youth respect, and are respected by, the law and justice system.

Civic Engagement & Youth Leadership
16 Ontario youth play a role in informing the decisions that affect them.
17 Ontario youth are engaged in their communities.
18 Ontario youth leverage their assets to address social issues.

Coordinated & Youth Friendly Communities
19 Ontario youth have access to safe spaces that provide quality opportunities for play and recreation.
20 Ontario youth know about and easily navigate resources in their communities.

To see the full framework: Stepping Up_a strategic framework to help Ontario’s Youth Succeed

For a two page summary handout see: steppingup-summary