Task Force Blog

News Release: End period poverty and the stigma surrounding menstruation

Menstrual products are a necessity, not a luxury. Access to menstrual products and dignity around menstruation – reducing the shame – is a health equity issue.

According to a local survey carried out by It’s Personal Period in Grey Bruce (2021), the survey found:

  • 1 in 2 people surveyed experienced period poverty,
  • 52% of those surveyed struggled to access products,
  • 73% (3 in 4 people) missed work or school due to menstruation, and
  • 40% were not informed of proper menstrual health.

The United Way Bruce Grey is pleased to recognize its partnership with It’s Personal Period, a grassroots committee based in Grey County and Bruce County. It’s Personal Period’s mission is to advance menstrual equity in Bruce Grey by addressing the impact period poverty has on the dignity and health of those who menstruate.

They aim to reduce the stigma and increase awareness about menstrual health by providing education and sustainable menstrual product options to those in need.

They have engaged with the Poverty Task Force’s Food Security Action Group to speak to the need for free menstrual products at community food program locations. You can find menstrual products in libraries and food banks across Bruce Grey.

For more resources, visit www.itspersonalperiod.com/resources.

Ontario Government Budget

In the 2021/2022 Ontario budget, the government made a 3 year commitment to provide 6 million menstrual products per year to school boards. Period Purse estimated that the number of promised pads does not meet the demand. It breaks down to only 10 pads/student/year. (Source: Period Purse, Oct 2021).

Here in Grey Bruce, the allocated amount from the Ontario government does not cover enough to provide free products and dispensing machines for all students in schools. The Poverty Task Force and It’s Personal Period supported the Bruce Grey Catholic School’s Board roll out of its student survey and free period product program The School Board added to the budget from the government to meet the demand of its student population.

The Poverty Task Force is advocating for the Ontario government to mandate free menstrual products in all public school washrooms such as exists in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Menstrual Hygiene Day is May 28th, 2023. Consider ways your organization can raise awareness about the challenges regarding access to menstrual products and education about menstruation.

Source: Plan International Canada survey

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 117

Dear Colleagues, 

Food inflation is rising at 9.7% right now.  There has been a 43% increase of food bank visits in Ontario and 1 in 4 children are living in a food insecure home (Stats Can 2021). 

The United Way of Bruce Grey works with community food programs to collect local data on Food Bruce Grey

  • Usage is not going down after the pandemic but increasing. Local food banks have reported the fastest growing population attending food banks are people who are employed. 
  • Meaford Food Bank reported, in the first quarter of 2023, food bank usage has increased by 47% compared to the same quarter last year. The pounds of food distributed has increased by 56%, and the number of first time users of the food bank has increased 200%. 

We know that food banks are a last resort. A recent TVO debate spoke to our social safety net being outsourced to food banks. 

We know that the Federal Funding for a National School Lunch Program was not in the 2023 budget.  We know that schools are one conduit for food support to students and their families. 

  • Across Canada, school food programs are speaking about their struggles to make ends meet right now. With the high price of food, it’s costing some programs as much as 25%  more than previous years to keep running. And they’re seeing higher demand too – more children in need of a balanced meal.

We are concerned that this summer food banks and schools shall need to continue to support families. While support is provided for basic food needs, we need to advocate for “transformational change” that invests in income security such as a basic income. 


  • Basic Income:  Bill S-233 has been sent to the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. The next step is to encourage our elected representatives to follow the example of the Senate. 
  • Follow the progress of Bill S-233 – the National Framework for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income Act – HERE
  • Click on this link to add to the UBIWorks.ca petition and send an email to your MP.  
  • End of Life Guide: the United Way of Bruce Grey has updated this financial  guidebook for people with low income planning for end of life expenditures.  
  • Grocery Rebate: a one-time payment was announced by the Federal government under Bill C-46, the Cost of Living Act. The rebate will be issued automatically by CRA to households with an income of $38,000 or less, and individuals who make $32,000 or less. 
  • There is no need to apply for the grocery rebate. It will be delivered along with the July GST Credit payment. To receive the payment it is required that recipients have filed their 2021 tax return. 
  • The rebate will be up to $467 for eligible couples with two children, $234 for single Canadians without children, and $225 for seniors.


Grey County SOS Mobile Outreach team: recently presented to Grey County council on health equity challenges they have seen working with people experiencing homelessness: 

  • Identification: obtaining or maintaining government-issued identification is a challenge which has an impact on those attempting to receive healthcare services. 
  • Insurance: during COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health established temporary funding for healthcare providers to treat those without coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). 
  • This program improved health outcomes and reduced financial hardship or barriers to healthcare for those without insurance or with lost or expired health cards in Ontario before the Ministry rescinded it as of April 1, 2023
  • The Ontario Medical Association has voiced its concern that ending this program without consultation or a better solution for Ontario’s uninsured would be detrimental to those in marginalized communities, such as people experiencing homelessness, those facing language barriers or mobility issues, or newcomers, migrant workers, and international students without coverage.
  • Call to Action: the Council of the County of Grey calls on the Ministry of Health to a) extend this program by the 6 months requested by the Ontario Medical Association to provide the opportunity for fulsome consultation with healthcare stakeholders; and b) utilize this program’s experience and insight to introduce a new policy that similarly reduces stigma and barriers for those without insurance to access Ontario healthcare and obtain or maintain a health card  


  • Grey Transit Route (GTR): has announced free weekend rides on all Grey Transit Route (GTR) buses from May 20th and until Sept. 3.
  • GTR travels between Owen Sound and Wiarton, Owen Sound and Orangeville and Owen Sound and The Blue Mountains.  It also partners with Shelburne to offer weekend service between Dundalk and Shelburne from April 29 to Jan. 28, 2024, and with South Bruce Peninsula and Bruce County to offer service to Sauble Beach from May 20 to Sept. 4, 2023.
  • Adult fares cost between $3 and $5. People are encouraged to book their rides by calling 1-226-910-1001 or book online. Walk-ons are permitted if there’s room.

Stay Well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 116

Dear Colleagues, 

Today is May 5th – the national Red Dress Day honouring the memories of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people across Canada. Statistics show Indigenous women continue to disappear and to be the victims of violence at a higher rate than non-Indigenous women.

The House of Commons unanimously backed a motion on May 2 declaring the deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls a Canada-wide emergency — and calling for funding for a new system – a Red Dress Alert – that would use cell phone networks to alert the public when Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ people are reported missing. A similar system, called the Feather Alert Program, already exists in California after it was introduced through Assembly Bill 1314 and became law in 2022.

Show your support and raise awareness – display a red dress in your yard, on your door, in your window, etc. and honour the missing and murdered by attending an event near you. Some events include a ceremony for everyone at Giche Name Wiiikwedong Reconciliation Gardens at Nawash Park, Owen Sound and for members only at Saugeen First Nation. 


  • Bruce County Transit Survey: Transportation service providers and those who serve clients in Bruce County who are in need of transit to access work, childcare or community services are being asked to complete a public Transit Demand and Feasibility Study.  
  • Poverty Task Force partners may also be contacted directly to participate in an in-person community stakeholders’ consultation in Paisley on May 17th. 


  • Ministry Housing Funding: the Ontario government announced Homeless Prevention funding to County of Bruce – $1,536,900 (increased by $599,400) and to County of Grey – $3,282,800 (increased by $1,237,200). 
  • Grey County Short Term Shelter Program: presented an update on their work to Grey County Council.  From October 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023, the Short Term Shelter Program:
    • Provided 8,210 nights of short-term shelter at motels. This is a 300% increased capacity of the program from 2021 to 2022 
    • Had an average of 43 rooms occupied per night. 
    • Helped 52 households find stable housing. 
    • Supported 273 unique adults and 23 children
  • A Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator has been approved for use in the Town of Blue Mountains to create long-term care beds and affordable housing. 
  • Bill 23 public consultations:  Ontario’s Bill 23 ends the statutory requirement for public meetings in some cases, but Grey County staff report they still have ‘merit’.
  • Ontario Human Rights Commission solicited input on the right to housing from stakeholders, service providers, Indigenous organizations, and advocates. Here is what the OHRC learned from that engagement process
  • Eviction Prevention: the Wellesley Institute has released a new report Eviction Prevention for Older Persons in Housing.


  • Free Income Tax Clinics: while the deadline for filing taxes was 1 May 2023 and most free income tax clinics are finished, there are still free services offered throughout the year. Go to freetaxclinics.ca to find the 211 listing of the nearest free service. 
  • New Tax Filing Pilot Program: the Federal government has announced it’s beefing up an existing program called File My Return that allows Canadians to file their tax returns by answering a series of simple questions over the telephone. Clients must be invited by the government to do so. 
  • The government says as many as 12 per cent of Canadians don’t file their taxes every year, most of whom are low-income Canadians. It’s estimated that non-filers missed out on more than $1.7 billion worth of government rebates and programs they were entitled to in the 2015 tax year alone.
  • Several dozen countries, including Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Chile, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia, already have tax systems that are largely automated.

Stay well, Jill 

Bringing an Equity Lens to Climate Change

Dear Colleagues,

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Climate change poses the greatest threat and risk to those that have been the least responsible – generally people that face deep-rooted and systemic challenges like poverty. Populations that are more privileged and have more resources subsequently have much stronger capacity to protect themselves from the impacts of climate change. (Retooling for Climate Change

The issues of poverty and climate cannot be separated. Climate justice and climate equity are essential approaches. (Tamarack Webinar: Climate Change and Poverty)

What is climate justice? 

The City of Vancouver in its Green Vancouver Plan defines climate justice as an approach that applies a social justice framework to the ways we understand and respond to climate change. The approach seeks to equitably distribute the cost and benefits related to adaptation and mitigation measures by centering the well-being and wisdom of those most impacted by climate change.  

Without climate justice, tackling the climate crisis can only address symptoms, not root causes. Without a social justice perspective, climate policies risk exacerbating the already unacceptable gap between rich and poor.

  • High-income families are responsible for a disproportionate share of the emissions that lead to climate change;
  • Low-income families can’t afford electric cars, retro-fitting homes or other measures that are usually proposed to reduce emissions;
  • Low-income residents risk being adversely affected by the carbon tax, higher electricity bills and other pricing measures than wealthier citizens. 

What are we doing? 

Sustainable practices that benefit people with low income include better relationships with the land, reducing food waste and improving food systems; advocating for more public transportation. 

  • Giiwe Sharing Circles are grounded in our relationship to the land and partners are learning Indigenous approaches to building relationships and co-designing solutions to poverty-related issues such as homelessness.

When food gets wasted, we’re also wasting all of the land, water, energy and other resources that went into producing it, impacting biodiversity and polluting our environment. Nearly 60% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted each year according to Second Harvest. A third of that waste is still edible, yet it goes to landfills instead of to those who could use it.

  • Grey Bruce food rescue program: When food ends up in a landfill, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Food rescue programs increase quality fresh food at community meal programs and food banks; and diverts food waste. (Second Harvest: Food Rescue)
    • 108 tonnes of food was diverted to by 32 community food programs in 2022. (Source:Food Bruce Grey
    • OSHaRE on average rescues 11 tonnes of food/month and 25 local agencies further benefit to share out food.  (Source: Grey Bruce Food Share
    • More than 17 grocery stores, drug stores and restaurants across Grey Bruce are participating in Grey Bruce Food Rescue. 
  • Grey Bruce Community Garden Network: 
    • 10 tonnes of fresh produce was donated from local food producers to community food programs. (Source:Food Bruce Grey
    • 4 tonnes of fresh produce was donated from community gardens to community food programs. (Source:Food Bruce Grey
  • Public transportation benefits all people as well as reduces and we have advocated for more public transportation connecting people to school, employment and grocery stores. The Grey County Climate Change Plan proposes the transition to Low-Carbon Transportation Modes Strategy, an increased rural bus system.  

Key outcomes announced in 2022 from COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference and the signing of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework gives us hope that world leaders are taking action.

The David Suzuki Foundation has pulled together resources for deepening our conversations on climate change and we need to ensure that we collectively take a climate justice and equity approach. 

Stay well, Jill