Task Force Blog

MEDIA RELEASE: RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative launches Landlords Survey

RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative launches first of two surveys on rental housing conditions and concerns in Owen Sound

The RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative is reaching out to housing providers and tenants to get a better picture of rental housing conditions and concerns in Owen Sound. The Collaborative, a voluntary collaboration of agencies, community organizations, landlords, and tenants working to support healthy and dignified housing, is conducting an online survey of landlords and property managers, to be followed by a similar survey with tenants.

The Collaborative hopes that, taken together, the surveys will shed light on the issues and challenges that housing providers and tenants are facing. The results will be publicly shared to support community dialogue on possible actions to improve housing conditions for tenants and better support landlords in maintaining safe and healthy rental units.

The first survey, an online survey of landlords and property managers who own or manage rental housing in Owen Sound, will launch on Wednesday, September 15th and remain open until the end of October. The survey invites landlords and property managers, including private market, non-profit and social housing, to share their views on range of issues.

Questions ask about their challenges with maintaining units, experiences involving tenants, such as concerns about tenant mental health, experiences with enforcement agencies or the Landlord & Tenant Board, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey is anonymous and takes approximately 12-15 minutes to complete. The surveys are being developed by members of the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative, based in part on a City of Montreal tenant survey on rental housing conditions. The surveys are presented as a joint initiative of the Grey Bruce Health Unit, the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, Community Voices, and RentSafe, and are being conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Ottawa.

Since October 2019, participants of the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative have been tackling housing inadequacy through research and finding new ways of working together toward potential solutions. For more information and to access the survey link, visit rentsafe.ca/owen-sound/.

Media Contact

For media inquiries or to request an interview, please contact:
Jill Umbach, povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com, 519-377-9406

To learn more about the surveys or the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative more generally, please contact:

▪ Rosanne Roy, Coordinator, RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative, Rosanne.Roy@ontario.ca
▪ Jill Umbach, Network Coordinator, Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com
▪ Greg Nicol, Fire Prevention Officer, Owen Sound Fire and Emergency Services, gnicol@owensound.ca
▪ Andrew Barton, Public Health Manager, Grey Bruce Health Unit, A.Barton@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca
▪ Erica Phipps, Director, RentSafe | Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Ottawa, ephipps@uottawa.ca

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 71

Dear Colleagues

The province has announced it will require people to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination status to access certain businesses and settings starting September 22, 2021. The province has published a Frequently Asked Questions page.

All Ontarians who registered their vaccines are encouraged to download their vaccine receipt or print their vaccine receipt from the provincial booking portal, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 as proof of their vaccine status until an enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code is available.

  • Ontarians will be required to show their vaccine receipt when entering designated settings along with another piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s licence or health card. 
  • These mandatory requirements will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores, medical supplies, etc.  
  • The province is working to establish a process to prove vaccination status for people with no email, health card or ID, as well as support the implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities.
  • Ontario will support the implementation of vaccine certificates for Indigenous communities whether or not they have opted to enter their data into COVax, while maintaining Indigenous data governance, control, access and possession principles.

Many concerns have been raised around ways to ensure people who are transient or homeless will not be discriminated against. 

  • In Quebec, the province says homeless people will be exempt from the requirement to present a vaccination passport to access restaurant dining rooms and patios, as well as food courts in shopping malls, for example. However, it’s not clear how people will prove they are homeless. 
  • Several articles have been written on respecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness and challenges with living on the streets. In BC, they are also raising the issue of access to vaccine passports for people who are homeless and how this will make life more difficult. 

In Grey and Bruce County, agencies have supported people to get vaccinated and are supporting the printing out vaccine receipts. As we move forward with an Ontario Vaccine Passport, please consider how this affects the most vulnerable people that we support in our communities. 

WORKPLACE VACCINATION POLICY

  • The Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health is recommending that local employers develop a workplace vaccination policy to protect their workers and the public from COVID-19. A workplace vaccination policy will identify the organizational expectations with regards to COVID-19 immunization of employees. The Health Unit has posted some recommendations and policy templates: http://ow.ly/bGs350G3anC 
  • The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has shared the Vax Pass Tenets to assist businesses to develop an employee vaccination policy. https://occ.ca/wp-content/uploads/OCC-Vax-Pass-Tenets.pdf 
  • The Region of Peel has announced a new employee vaccination policy.  All Regional employees are to disclose and provide documentation of their COVID-19 vaccination status. Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to complete educational programming about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination. They will also need to provide regular negative COVID tests.

HEALTH EQUITY 

  • Poverty Task Force meeting: on Friday, September 17th we shall be taking a health equity lens to the work we do. The meeting is entitled “Talking health equity: moving from response to recovery: Dr. Rim Zayed, Grey Bruce Health Unit will start off our conversation. We have also invited Federal Candidates to join us. 
  • Temporary Sick Leave: Ontario has announced it will extend a temporary sick leave program for workers at the end of December 2021.Since April 2021, the province provides 3 paid days of sick leave to accommodate self-isolation requirements during the pandemic, reimbursing employers up to $200 per day for what they pay out.
  • Virtual urgent care services: under the pandemic the development of virtual hospital Emergency Rooms is something that might become a permanent tool for our local hospitals. While not in place now, discussions are underway on how to use them effectively at Grey Bruce Health Services. 
  • Virtual UrgentCareOntario.ca: several regional hospitals announced they are partnering in a joint pilot initiative to offer virtual urgent care services to residents of southwestern Ontario. This service offers patients located outside these hospital communities the opportunity to access urgent care without leaving home.

IMPACT OF PANDEMIC ON YOUTH 

  • YWCA Canada and YMCA Canada have embarked on a new project focused on responding to the impact of the pandemic on youth. Preventing a lockdown generation Report, 2021 outlines challenges faced by youth, ages 18 to 30 years old, in light of the pandemic, and proposes policy responses to ensure youth recover and are resilient in the face of future crises. 

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • YMCA Grey Bruce Emergency shelter: From April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021, the program has assisted more than 800 instances of emergency shelter for a total of 8,029 nights of emergency shelter. (Compared to 2019-2020 fiscal year with 2,731 nights of shelter). 
  • Grey Bruce By Names List has a total of 119 people who are experiencing homelessness. Of those, 56 are chronically homeless. 
  • The Social Services Relief Fund, Phase 3 still has remaining funds until December 2021. Organizations should contact Josh Gibson, Josh.Gibson@grey.ca or Tania Dickson, tdickson@brucecounty.on.ca

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • Feeding Families – Restaurant Relief initiative has now wrapped up. 75 donors gave a total of $52,000 to more than 40 local restaurants who made close to 3,500 meals that were delivered to OSHaRE. OSHaRE shared these out through their own community meal program as well as to other meal programs across Grey Bruce. 
  • Dozens of the meals were also a vital component in assisting with Covid outbreaks at a Hanover rooming house and on Saugeen First Nation when large groups of people were asked to quarantine for at least 2 weeks.  
  • Meals2Motels: 11,366 meals from April 2020 to July 2021 were delivered to people sheltering in motels. 
  • Future of Food: local growers, agri-food processors and food businesses are invited to join area partners on September 22nd, 10am-12noon for a collaborative presentation on the Future of Food.  The presentation is followed by an interactive networking session for participants. This event is designed to provide our local agriculture and food sector with the high-level information they need to plan post-COVID. This is a FREE event, but registration is required. Space is limited. To register, visit www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-future-of-food-registration-164022936017

NEWCOMERS SUPPORTS

  • Grey Bruce Newcomers Welcoming Week are hosting a week of celebrations to showcase diverse communities across Grey-Bruce, to foster an inclusive community and welcome newcomers. The first annual “Welcoming Week” will be from September 10 to 19, 2021.  Learn more at: News & Events | Grey Bruce Local Immigration Partnership .

Stay well, Jill 

Equitable Recovery = A Better Normal

Federal Election 2021, Poverty Task Force Media Release

People with insufficient income face impossible choices every single day.  Basic needs are increasingly out of reach for people living on low-income. 

An equitable recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic requires that people with low income, Indigenous people, women, people living with disabilities and other employment barriers have enough income and other resources to recover well.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force calls on all Federal candidates to prioritize Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy – Opportunity for All. Specifically to invest in more programs that

  • lift people out of poverty, in a dignified manner, by ensuring they can afford basic needs—such as safe and affordable housing, healthy food, and health care
  • ensure economic barriers – such as daycare, transportation, racial and gender discrimination – are reduced
  • promote full participation in society and equitable opportunities for all people

The pandemic has increased the number of people in our communities who are struggling to find affordable homes and/or experiencing homelessness. It also demonstrated how those struggling can be more vulnerable to threats in their community.  

Housing is a basic right in Canada. A Housing First approach and investment in wrap around human services is essential to reducing poverty, ending homelessness, preparing people for employment; and creating healthy and safe communities.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force calls on all Federal candidates to prioritize A Place to Call Home – National Housing Strategy. Specifically to invest in more programs to

  • build affordable and supportive housing
  • address critical gaps in homelessness for women and youth
  • develop an Indigenous Housing Strategy for rural Indigenous people who live off-reserve
  • protect existing rental housing

A sustainable recovery must incorporate a climate lens in all policies, especially those addressing poverty and vulnerable people.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force calls on all Federal candidates to consider the priorities of Everyone at the Table – Food Policy for Canada.  Specifically to:

  • ensure people can afford healthy food
  • Invest in Community-based interventions that increase access to food, with the potential to provide social, health, environmental, and economic benefits
  • Enable all Canadians and stakeholders to collaborate on food policy goals including those to reduce food waste
  • support Indigenous food security and sovereignty 

QUICK FACTS:

Infographics:

LEARN MORE:

For more information, contact: povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 69

Dear Colleagues, 

We have been monitoring the impact of the pandemic on employment. Rising unemployment rates in 2020 have reflected layoffs due to COVID19 but things are improving in 2021.  

In June 2020, our unemployment rate for Stratford-Bruce Peninsula Economic Region rose to 9.6% but by July 2021 we are down to 3.6%. This brings us back to pre-pandemic unemployment rates (3.8%, July 2019). 

  • The Four County Labour Market Planning Board reports our unemployment rate and labour force numbers indicate we are moving in a positive direction pointing to steady recovery. 
  • However, employers from our top employment sectors like manufacturing, construction and agriculture continue to need workers in their respective fields. 
  • A lack of immigration has impacted some employers. Traditionally low wages, hard labour and contract work makes it challenging to attract local workers in the agriculture sector. 
  • Some people believe that the attraction of existing government benefits contributes to people not returning to work. Rev David Shearman does the math in this article and other authors speak to wage shortages not labour shortages.

Recently our Income & Employment Security Action Group discussed what are some of the reasons for not returning to work?

  • health risk of returning to work, 
    • especially in customer-facing positions or front-line jobs in sectors like hospitality, retail and the restaurant industry
  • generalized anxiety and distrust related to vaccines
    • uncertainty about the efficacy of vaccines against the Delta variant 
  • a lack of childcare options 
    • In Grey County, 2 daycare centres and 2 homecare providers closed resulting in 70% of spaces being available
    • some summer camps had limited spaces
    • school was out for the summer 
  • online or in-person schooling debate
    • any child with COVID symptoms has to stay home and you can’t send them to daycare or school
  • uncertainty of what is available for schooling options – having to stay home as parents
  • opportunity to take a career change
    • taking time to examine new job options
    • not returning to low wage job or postpone going back in order to evaluate better job opportunities/job search
  • a lack of interest in certain types of work, particularly in the trades.

We also discussed what are some of the things people did while collecting CERB? 

  • recent study of people receiving CERB found that 50% learned a new skill, 42% took an online class, and 10% started a business. This was reflective locally. Employment support agencies saw an increase in participation in training programs. 

While many frontline employees worked throughout the pandemic, we need to consider the dynamics of the “new workplace”

  • heightened anxiety and mental health challenges returning to a workplace
    • being off work or working from home can establish a new routine/sense of safety
    • being laid off and unemployed for a lengthy time affects your relationship with the employer and/or self-confidence  
  • trauma of lockdown conditions and possible Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • economic disparity and job role disparity
    • many entry level jobs, low income and front line jobs did not allow people to work from home 
    • their role and experience of the pandemic is different from those who could work from home

INCOME SUPPORTS 2021

  • M’Wikwedong IFC: will be hosting a “Back to School Walk Through” event at the Friendship Centre on Tuesday, August 24th, 11-2pm. 
  • Canadian Recovery Benefit: Canadians will be able to apply for Canada Recovery Benefit until Sept. 25. Benefits have decreased from $500 to $300 before tax during the summer. 
    • The pandemic-linked enhancements to the Employment Insurance benefits for jobless workers will be in effect until September.
    • Both benefits require that claimants be actively looking for employment while on claim.
  • Bruce County Administrative buildings in Walkerton, Kincardine, Port Elgin, and Wiarton announced they are now taking in-person appointments as well as virtual appointments.

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Bill 184, Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020, amended the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA). A number of the amendments took effect on July 21, 2020. Other amendments take effect on September 1, 2021. 
    • Currently, the Landlord and Tenant Board (RTA) can only consider an application made by the landlord claiming compensation if the tenant is still living in the rental unit. Claims made after the tenant has moved out must be made at Ontario Small Claims Court.  
    • As a result of the amendments to the RTA, a landlord will be able to claim compensation up to 1 year after the date the tenant moved out for specific reasons including arrears. 

TRANSPORTATION SUPPORTS

  • Grey Transit Route has approved funding to expand its funding routes in 2022. 
    • In June, the Province announced Grey County and Southgate would receive an additional $1.2 million over 2 years to continue funding most of the GTR routes at current service levels until 2025.
    • The additional county funding would enable Grey to increase from 5 to 7 days per week 3 of the GTR routes – Owen Sound to Dundalk, Owen Sound to Meaford and Meaford to The Blue Mountains – for 2022.
    • More than half of the county funds – $135,000 of the $223,000 – would be used to expand the Grey Road 4 route between Flesherton and Hanover from operating only Mondays and Fridays to running each weekday in 2022.

HARM REDUCTION/ADDICTION SUPPORTS

  • Overdose Awareness Day: M’Wikwedong IFC will be hosting a Sacred Fire Ceremony, Owen Sound on August 31 from 1-3pm.  
  • The event will be a walk-through event. They will also have naloxone kits/training for Direct Service Users and visiting community members. Covid Protocols will be in place. Contact Conrad Ritchie (iaaw@mwikwedong.com)  519-371-1147 ext 236 or Rachel Paterson 226-568-5242 if you are interested in setting up a booth or discussing the event further.

AGE FRIENDLY COMMUNITY STRATEGY – GREY COUNTY 

Grey County is planning to create a more inclusive environment for all individuals. Agency staff and their customers are invited to complete the Age Friendly Survey https://publicinput.com/E4801.  

  • Upcoming Public Engagement Sessions: Community Conversation Workshop – Communication and Information, and Respect and Social Inclusion: August 26, 2021 (6:00 pm – 8:00 pm) 
  • Community Conversation Workshop – Civic Participation and Employment, and Community Supports and Health Services: September 1, 2021 (3:00 pm – 5:00 pm)
  • For more information on this project, and to register for sessions, please visit: http://www.grey.ca/age-friendly

Stay well, Jill