Task Force Blog

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 64

Dear Colleagues, 

Miigwetch to the Elders and teachers who provided healing words and blessings for our community last week. Blessings were said at many memorial locations, including at the Giche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden and Saugeen First Nation for the 215 residential school children. 

  • This year, National Indigenous History Month is dedicated to the missing children, the families left behind and the survivors of residential schools. National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.
  • The Owen Sound Library and Kegedonce Press host a virtual visit with authors Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler, Celeste Pedri-Spade, and Neal Shannacappo. They will discuss their current books published by Kegedonce Press and life as Indigenous authors on June 10 at 7:00 pm.
  • Go to Zoom Link: http://bit.ly/Kegedonce-OSNGUPL

This week, we stand in solidarity with our Muslim community. We extend our compassion and love to those in our community and elsewhere who are affected by this horrendous crime against a Muslim family in London.   We fundamentally oppose and condemn all forms of Islamophobia, hatred, discrimination and prejudice

  • The Kincardine Islamic Centre is asking people to join the calls by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) for a National Action Summit on Islamophobia.  https://www.nccm.ca/london/ 
  • The Owen Sound Muslim Association invite the community to come together at Owen Sound City Hall, Friday, June 11 at 7 p.m to join as we have before in peaceful solidarity with and for our Muslim neighbours. We want a safe community for them and all our children, and we can only build that together. If you wish to bring a non-perishable food item, it will be donated to a local food program. 

There remains so much work to be done in our communities and country to address all forms of discrimination, hatred and systemic racism. 

  • Show your Pride this month by following Grey Bruce Pride or visit their events page for upcoming events and activities in your area: https://www.facebook.com/GreyBrucePride/events 
  • Kincardine Pride is hosting a three-part webinar series called “‘Out’ in the Country” which will explore what it means to be LGBTQ2+ in rural Ontario. 
  • Learn more and register for each of the three webinars at fb.com/kincardinepride/events 
  • An introduction to human trafficking relevant to the 2SLGBTQ community is being hosted  by PFLAG on Tuesday, June 15th.   LGBTQ youth and other marginalized youth are disproportionately at risk of being trafficked.  
  • Nicole Gajraj will give a short talk followed by a Q&A period.   For the Zoom link email owensoundon@pflagcanada.ca

As we  move into Step 1 of the Roadmap to Reopen many organizations and businesses will be opening up their doors. Please remember to update 211 for your listing and check 211 for changes to programs.  


  • Ontario Nutrition Program Grey Bruce (OSNP-GB):  OSNP staff have been  planning with all 135 schools on ways to support food insecure families throughout the summer. All schools have received communications from OSNP with information on available grocery store gift cards, food vouchers, food hampers, meal sources and good food boxes. 
  • OSNP granted an additional $160,000 emergency funding that has been made available to schools for family home support now and over the summer months. The United Way, Bruce Power, the Salvation Army, grocery stores and school fundraisers have also contributed various supports via OSNP.  
  • If you have school families-in-need, please contact the school principal or administrator to access resources. Each school has different plans for distribution in June and over the summer months. 
  • Grey Bruce Food Distribution: while not all the May 2021 numbers are in the totals today since July 2020 are: 
    • over 150,000 (152,852) community meals distributed by 12 out of 18 organizations
    • 50,134.24 kg of food donated through foodrescue.ca 
    • 132,769 kg of food donated through food banks to 8,975 HHs (17,329 people supported), 17 out of 20 food banks 
    • 27,060 community volunteer hours (35 out of 52 organizations) 
  • The Grey Bruce Community Garden Network has put out a call for community members to assist in this year’s growing season in Durham.  Contact riverstonecommunitygarden@elephantthoughts.com.
  • South East Grey Community Health Centre -has  opened to the public on June 7th for face-to-face meetings with clients and meal pickups.  


  • The COVID19 outbreakat the Forum rooming house in Hanover has brought partners together to respond to the complex needs in the building. 
  • While Grey Bruce Public Health is leading with other health providers to respond to the medical needs, many other partners are ensuring daily meals, food hampers and health & hygiene items are delivered. Other partners are providing housing support and responding with mental health, harm reduction and non-COVID19 health support for the residents who must remain in isolation. 
  • Public Health has a comprehensive checklist for preventing and responding to outbreaks in congregate settings. 
  • By-Name List: 20 new referrals came in this week for a total of 90 people on the list.   A by-name list is a comprehensive list of every person in a community experiencing homelessness, updated in real time. Using information collected and shared with their consent, each person on the list has a file that includes their name, homeless history, health, and housing needs.


  • Reaching Home Funding: the United Way Simcoe Muskoka invites existing recipients of Reaching Home funding for Rural and Remote to apply again for a different project  for capital projects to address housing needs in their region.   
  • A total of $2,619,222 will be available to support capital projects, pending approval from Parliament, expected in June 2021.  Funding requests accepted from a minimum of $25,000 up to a maximum of $500,000.
  •  Application deadline: July 5th at 5:00 PM EST.
  •  Projects to run from September 2021 to March 31, 2022.
  • To Apply visit their website https://uwsimcoemuskoka.ca/reachinghomeapply/ or contact Tally Lajeunesse,  Federal Programs Associate,705.726.2301 x 2012,  ReachingHome@UWSimcoeMuskoka.ca


  • Wellness Wednesdays: Jackie Ralph, CMHA Supervisor, Youth Awareness & Education, is an incredible force of energy in our community!  Since Sept 2020, she has produced 30 Wellness Wednesday videos with 5,042 views and 20 On Air interviews with Mix 106.5 (some 6,619 listeners and 13,292 views). With the province re-opening this weekend, look for Jackie singing outside various long-term care facilities! 


  • COVID-19 benefits finder will help you to determine which benefits you may be eligible for: https://covid-benefits.alpha.canada.ca/en/start
  • The Wiarton Salvation Army will be hosting an ID clinic next week. Call for more info 519-534-0353.
  • United Way School Backpack Program opens Jun 14th – Aug 20th, 2021. Individuals can dial 2-1-1 on their phone to apply for the Backpack Program. 2-1-1 call centre staff will complete the intake application process. After Aug 20th, individuals can contact the United Way directly @ 519-376-1560. 
  • For large agency requests, call the United Way office directly. Once backpacks are available, the United Way will contact the parent and coordinate pick up in Owen Sound or at a depot in their community. Requests after Aug 16 may not reach a depot and the parent may need to come to Owen Sound to pick up.  
  • Pick up depots are located in: 
  • Grey County – Dundalk, Durham, Hanover, Markdale, Meaford and Owen Sound 
  • Bruce County – Kincardine, Port Elgin, Tara, Walkerton and Wiarton


  • Meaford Moves+ is an accessible, door-to-door bus service that Municipal residents who have a disability or mobility challenge may be eligible for. 
  • Riders can use Meaford Moves+ for medical or professional appointments, or going to work. If your healthcare provider is out of town, trips to Collingwood, Thornbury, or Owen Sound for medical appointments are also available.  
  • Rates are $2 for in-town rides, and $8 for out of town trips.
  • For an application form, visit http://ow.ly/WJT950EZ8JM, or call 519-538-1060 ext. 1100 for a hardcopy.

Stay well, Jill  

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 63

Dear Colleagues, 

The Poverty Task Force offers our deep condolences and stand in solidarity with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, with all residential school survivors, and with all of our Indigenous friends and neighbours who continue to face intergenerational trauma and oppression based on deeply rooted, systemic colonial legacies.

This legacy of life-threatening discrimination against Indigenous peoples is threaded throughout our history and continues today. The last residential school closed in 1996, and many of the survivors of the 139 schools that existed across Canada are alive today, still dealing with the trauma that was inflicted on them as children. 

Our colleague, Diane Giroux from M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre has written to community partners –  

“Our shared journey must consist of reconciliation as we strive to bring healing to all. Your engagement in Giiwe is one of these appreciated reconciliation gestures. 

At our May 21st Giiwe Sharing Circle, a draft list of recommendations that could be implemented within agencies and organizations was shared.  This document is still a work in progress as we consult with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Teachers, Healers and the community to bring it to completion. 

Please consider addressing one or two of these in the coming weeks. Each gesture is a contribution to healing and giving hope. There needs to be hope.” [email povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com for a copy of the recommendations]

Merci and Miigwetch to Diane for sharing her words of action and healing.  We cannot end poverty without addressing Indigenous-specific racism through meaningful learning, advocacy, and reconciliation. 

  • M’Wikwedong IFC is inviting the community to join them for a come-and-go ceremony and sacred fire for all the children found in Kamloops, BC on Friday, June 4th from 11am-2:30pm. 
  • For those who need support right now, or anytime in the future. Please call National Indian Residential School Crisis Line, 1-866-925-4419 

Today, the Core Working Group launched the National Action Plan on MMIWG and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People.  The plan has been co-developed with  the National Family and Survivors Circle and 8 sub-working groups. The plan will drive transformative change to end systemic racism and violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women/girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples.

  • The National Action Plan responds to the findings of and 231 Calls for Justice from the 2019 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the 62 Calls for Miskotahâ (Michif word for change) from the Métis Perspectives report.
  • Today also marks the  2nd anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the MMIW National Inquiry
  • The National Inquiry has determined that colonial structures and policies are persistent in Canada and constitute a root cause of the violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. 
  • The residential school system is part of the systemic violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. 
  • The report highlights that the thousands of truths shared before the National Inquiry reinforce the existence of acts of genocide against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people:
  • The federal government announced investments in excess of $18 billion in the 2021 budget over the next 5 years to improve the quality of life, advance reconciliation and create new opportunities for people living in Indigenous communities.

National Indigenous History Month is a time for all of us – Indigenous, non-Indigenous and newcomers – to reflect upon and learn the history, sacrifices, cultures, contributions, and strength of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.   

National Pride Month Grey Bruce Pride has planned a wide range of activities this month. Go to their Facebook page for more details. Some activities include 

  • exploring 2SLGBTQQIAP+ terms each day
  • education material and self-discovery pieces shall be posted daily
  • car rally on June 27th 
  • identifying businesses as as pride safe spaces
  • collecting pride letters to support 2SLGBTQQIAP+ members who are struggling 


  • Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund The Federal government launched a $291 million loan fund for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. The loans range from $25,000 to $250,000. This is part of the Black Entrepreneurship Program.  


  • Remote learning will continue for the remainder of the school year, the Ontario Government announced. This will allow the province to continue its focus on accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations to support a safer summer and return to in-person learning in September for the 2021-22 school year.  
  • Sick Kids-led study (Feb 2021) found more than 70% of children aged 2 to 18 years expressed feeling lonely, overwhelmed, sleepless, worried, sad, irritable, anxious or stressed during the first wave, with isolation posing a significant risk factor. 
  • Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced an $80 million fund for school boards to hire up to 1,000 additional mental health workers for the next two years. Over $31 million was announced for support to schools for 2021-2022. 


  • Intersectional Action Fund is a federal grant that usually goes to organizations outside of the health sector to 
    • identify priority areas for collective action on social determinants of health (SDOH) and wellbeing
    • foster transformative partnerships to facilitate action on SDOH and wellbeing and build capacity to take action on SDOH and wellbeing. 
    • projects funded range from $25K-250K for 1 year. 
    • Application Deadline: July 12, 2021 at 3:00pm EDT. Funding starts no earlier than Fall 2021.

 Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 62

Dear Colleagues, 

Temperatures have dropped and there is snow in Markdale! But there are still some warm messages of hope this week. 

  • Butterfly & Bee gardens are being planted around the region as part of the Butterfly Project. The Grey Bruce Community Garden Network Coordinator has even used canoes in Meaford in preparation for Pollinator’s Week.  
  • The Feeding Families, Restaurant Relief campaign continues to grow and provide meals daily that are being shared out across Grey Bruce. 
  • A new memorial monument and education plaque has been installed at Greenwood Cemetery, Owen Sound. In Potter’s Field, at least 1,242 vulnerable people were laid to rest without any visible marker. 
  • These people include hundreds of newborns/stillborn/toddlers, orphans, seniors, the working poor, the homeless and hundreds of members of Owen Sound’s black community including those who escaped on the Underground Railroad and their descendants. May they rest in peace. 



  • Giiwe and Indigenous Supportive Housing Support Program held a circle on May 21st. Partners joined together to learn from Elder Richard Assinewai who opened Giiwe with the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers or aadizookaan which reflects the Nibwaakaawin, “Good Way of Life” or native law. 
  • Giiwe has become a community and personal journey for partners. Grey County and Bruce County have supported it with funds to continue this journey.  Giiwe started with 12 partners and we now have over 100 partners at the table now. 
  • There is a Giiwe Model being built at Queen’s University. We are working with 3 different universities and soon to be a 4th. We have expanded to build bridges with Simcoe County and 2 First Nations. We were able to secure funding for the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program. This program has been critical under the pandemic response.


  • Bruce Botanical Food Gardens has hired a new Gardens Manager Liz Miltonburg (gardenmanager@bbfg.org).  They are looking for volunteers to join their Board of Directors. If you are interested, submit a letter of interest to administrator@bbfg.org by June 17, 2021.
  • Correction – the Wiisinadaa/Let’s Eat Program correct email address is wiisinadaa@mwikwedong.com 
  • M’Wikwedong Wellness Garden Kits:  the Indigenous Health and Wellness Strategy Program (IHWS) is offering community garden box kits to enhance home gardens.  Register by calling or texting IHWS Program Coordinator, Tanya Coulter @ 519-372-7898. 
  • Feeding Families – Restaurant Relief: 30 restaurants made over 2,400 meals thanks to local donors who’ve contributed $36,000.  All of the food going to Owen Sound Hunger and Relief Effort is distributed to their clients and shared with other communities. .   
    • 100 meals went to YUM Program, South East Grey Meal (Markdale)  
    • 140 meals to CMHA to use across Grey Bruce
    • 140 meals to Salvation Army in Owen Sound
    • 50 meals to Port Elgin Salvation Army. 
    • 20 meals to Safe n’ Sound. 
    • 20 meals Chesley Baptist Church 
    • 20 meals to M’Wikwedong. 
  • Food security presentation to Southgate Council: Paul Wagenaar, UW Food Security Coordinator, Jill Umbach, Poverty Task Force and Barb Fedy spoke to Southgate Council about food security on May 5th. This was reported in the Toronto Star.  
  • They will present next to Chatsworth Council on June 2nd. 


  • An OPIOID ALERT was released on May 23rd . Please share the alert.   
  • There have been 6 overdoses (non-fatal) in the past 3 days. This includes Owen Sound, Meaford and Kincardine, as well as Saugeen First Nation. There have also been 2 fatal overdoses in the past 2 weeks.   (Note: as of May 23rd).
  • Please alert any clients that use drugs of this high rate of overdoses. 


  • Keystone Child, Youth and Family Services: has created a new System Navigator position that will work with emergency departments when children show up while in the middle of a mental health crisis. There has been an increase in numbers of young people being seen in the 11 emergency rooms within our communities. The aim is to assign a child a clinician from Keystone within the first hour of them showing up for help in an ER
  • Mental Health and Addiction Peer Support (MAPS) is open for referrals from Probation and Parole at this time. Services offered: 
    • System navigation/facilitate the connection of support services.
    • Assist in the development of a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
    • Provide individual and group support.
    • Work with Probation and or Parole Officer to address the client’s needs upon referral.
    • Peer Support around mental health issues
    • Peer Support around substance use issues
    • Support connecting or engaging with basic needs.  
  • If you know of a peer that could benefit from this program, please direct them to speak to their Probation or Parole Officer. 


SAVE THE DATE: Next Poverty Task Force meeting is Friday, June 18th, 10am. 

Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/Community Update # 61

Dear Colleagues, 

We continue to dance. It is now 3 Steps to the left (or right) with a new Roadmap to Reopen Plan. The Government of Ontario is undertaking a phased approach to reopening. When we do, we will no longer be following the guidance and restrictions in the colour coded framework. Instead, reopening will be sector specific. It was also announced that schools will remain closed. Students will continue with remote learning.

Staying connected during this pandemic has been a priority at the Poverty Task Force and many other organizations.  

  • Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Updates: we have shared 61 community updates since March 19th, 2020. In the beginning these were daily, then 2-3 times/week and now weekly. 
  • Demand for 211 supports jumped 40% within the first 2 week of the pandemic. Additional funds ensured 211 was able to directly connect over 470,000 Ontarians to critical supports – from access to housing and food, to mental health services, income relief, employment services and more. 
  • Foodthoughts.ca was started up for members of our Emergency Food Security network. It provides technical support, best practices and highlights the work of members.   


  • GBHS Owen Sound Hospital ER now has an Addiction Counsellor to support patients who are discharged from the ER, and who are struggling with drug and alcohol use. ER staff & physicians can book a virtual appointment for patients within 48 hours of leaving the ER so they can speak to the Addiction Counsellor & get connected to local help. The goal is to help reduce the risk of relapse, & reduce repeat visits to the ER. 
  • This service will soon be rolled out to the 5 other GBHS hospital ERs, as well as the South Bruce Grey Health Centre & Hanover and District Hospital corporations.
  • See this NEW report: Changing Circumstances Surrounding Opioid-Related Deaths in Ontario during the COVID-19 Pandemic from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network.


  • Canada Child Benefit Young Child Supplement: Families with children under the age of 6 in 2021 who receive the Canada Child Benefit will receive an additional supplement beginning May 28th. These payments come from the Federal Government. 
  • If your family’s net income (income after tax is deducted) is $120,000 or less, you will receive $300 per payment for each child under the age of 6. If your family’s net income is above $120,000, you will receive $150 per payment for each child under the age of 6. You may be able to receive up to 4 of these payments in 2021. Go here for the payment breakdown and eligibility. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/news/2021/05/ccb-young-child-supplement-2021.html 
  • To receive these payments, you must file your 2019 and 2020 tax returns. 
  • If you were eligible for this supplement in January and April, you will receive those two payments together starting May 28th. If you are eligible for the third and fourth payment, you will receive these in July and October. 
  • Getting Ahead Refresher Course: the Adult Learning Centre will be running a new group in June, 4 days-a-week (Monday to Thursday) on Zoom 10-1pm. This is open to all graduates prior to 2020 regardless of whether they are on OW or ODSP or not.  Participants will receive a “zoom box” prior to the start of the session with everything you’ll need for the course. Contact Sandra Holyer (sholyer@owensound.ca).  


  • Disconnection ban  The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has extended the ban on disconnection notices for residential electricity customers until June 2.   
  • The National Alliance to End Rural and Remote Homelessness, in partnership with Lakehead University researcher, Dr. Rebecca Schiff, is inviting you to participate in a research study about COVID – 19 and its impacts on Rural and Remote Homelessness service providers. Please contact Research Coordinator Ashley Wilkinson at awilkin2@lakeheadu.ca by June 1 2021.
  • Homelessness By Names List: 70 people on the list which is an increase of 10 since May 5th. Age range 16-67. 45 people on this list are experiencing chronic homelessness. 6 people have been housed since May 5th. Completed data sets exist for 42 people, an increase of 11 since May 5. They are identified as Male (25), Female (17), Indigenous (14) and 2SLGBTQ+ (2). 
  • Correction: 2021 Bruce County Home Repairs – funding for 2021 is depleted. But they anticipate more funds in April 2022.
  • Bruce County Housing Stability Fund: Bruce County Human Services has developed a new process for Housing Stability Fund applications. The Integrated Service Assistants (ISAs) at each of the hubs will receive Housing Stability Fund applications and determine eligibility. Submit an application online here.
  •  Applications can also be emailed to HumanServicesIntegratedServicesAssistants@brucecounty.on.ca 
  • If you require any information or have questions contact the ISAs at:  
    • Penetangore Hub (Kincardine) – 519-396-2116
    • Lakeshore Hub (Port Elgin) – 519-389-5580
    • Peninsula Hub (Wiarton) – 519-534-1286
    • Admin Centre (Walkerton) – 519-881-0431
    • Or 1-800-265-3005




  • The Grey Transit Route is launching a Service Improvement Survey. The survey will direct them to make changes about what new service stops and schedules would be most helpful for residents. Please share the survey with those who use the service and those who need it.  They intend to make updates to the services this fall. 

Stay well, Jill