Community Advocacy

The Peer Advocacy Office is located downstairs, on the same floor as the Good Food Bank. The office is run by Peer Advocates who have successfully completed the Community Advocacy Training.

Advocates are available to offer resources, referrals, and support on a wide array of issues from replacing lost identification, to helping fill out paperwork, to conducting a housing search. The office is open to all community members and no appointment is needed.

For more information on the services the Community Advocacy Office offers please check out the Community Advocacy Office page, called Perth Advocates on Facebook.

To speak to an advocate please call 613-267-6428 ext. 29 or email

Office hours are: Monday 2pm – 5pm, Tuesday 12pm – 3pm, Wednesday 4pm – 6pm, Thursday CLOSED, and Friday 2pm – 5pm

Advocacy Initiatives

The following information provides background information to a statement developed for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2017. The statement and this backgrounder were developed by:  North Hastings Community TrustCommunity Development Council of QuinteRural Frontenac Community ServicesThe Table Community Food Centre, and Poverty Round Table Hastings, Prince Edward
Many poor people in rural communities have lived independent lives and been resilient in many ways. Aging and changes in the labour market—plant and business closings, increased precarity of work—have made them more dependent. People in rural communities are perhaps more reluctant to display their poverty. If the degree of their poverty is made public, they risk losing their housing—as inadequate as it may be. 
In an effort to attract new people to their region and boost tourism, rural municipal governments focus on the scenic and attractive aspects of rural reality—rarely do they reveal the hidden poverty that exists. Many rural people who live in poverty
have limited access to the basics of life. Organizations that provide community services in the counties of Prince Edward, Hastings, Frontenac and Lanark report the following:
Housing is a major issue. Rental housing is expensive and becoming scarcer. In Prince Edward County, for example, some long-term rental housing is being converted to Airbnb accommodation for tourists visiting local vineyards. 
Many rural people own their homes and land through inheritance or lack of rental options. Some live in cottages or other housing that needs repair; they may have nowhere to go. Some live in housing with dirt floors. The federal loan program to repair and rehabilitate rural housing was recently downloaded to provinces and then to municipalities—who do not have moneyto meet the existing need.
In more extreme cases, people live in hunting camps with no heat, plumbing or septic systems. Some do not want service providers to visit them at homes for fear that their property will be condemned. Agency staff working in urban communities
who decide on their eligibility have tight guidelines and little understanding of this reality. For example, Ontario’s homelessness prevention program assists residents to pay for oil, electricity or propane but not necessarily wood as a fuel. Poor people often heat with wood because it is free if they can cut and split it themselves. However, when they become ill or elderly they may need cash to buy wood.
Homelessness in rural communities is not as visible as in urban communities. For example, in North Hastings some people reportedly live in their cars and
go to the local library to use the Internet and to wash. Individuals eligible for social housing must wait six to eight years.
Utility costs
Utility costs are still high, despite recent reforms and subsidies introduced by the province, and often range from $800 to $1000 a month. Many people struggle
to pay their utility bills—necessary to keep their house. The delivery fee hurts rural residents. Electricity, often used for heating, may also be required to operate water and septic systems. In north, central and south Frontenac, only one town has a municipal water system.
North Hastings Community Trust reports that calls for help to get wood for stoves and heating have doubled.
Food Insecurity
Rent and utility bills must be paid to avoid becoming homeless, so food may become optional in a household budget. Food insecurity rates are high in rural communities. Many people live in “food deserts”—5 km or more from a store thatmay be just a gas station or convenience store. Food is more expensive and of poorer quality when only one store is within a half-hour drive. 
Demand at food banks has increased from people with minimum-wage jobs and those relying on social assistance or on a fixed income. Many communities have no local access to food—let alone fruit and vegetables.
Many people do hunt, fish and grow their own food. However if they are ill or elderly, they may need cash to buy food.
Getting to a food bank from many rural communities is difficult, as bus transportation is limited or non-existent. So most people need to use cars—and become desperate if their vehicle breaks down and they can’t afford to repair it. Some people hitchhike to get to the food bank or rely on their neighbours.
There is no ODSP office in North Hastings, and the Ontario Works office is 2.5 km from Bancroft. ODSP pays for rides only to medical appointments; stops at grocery stores are not allowed. One agency provides a volunteer transportation program that costs the agency 50 cents a kilometre—cheaper than taxis and Uber—but a ride to a doctor can cost the agency $100. The new Ontario Seniors Public Transit Tax credit of up to $3,000 is available only for public transit services operated by the province or a municipality, which is not viable in many rural communities.
The population of seniors living in poverty in rural communities is increasing. They may have lived there all their lives, downsized or moved from the city to their cottage. An increasing number of widowed seniors now find their single income is not enough to pay for the basics: housing, utilities and food. The increasing stress of this poverty can cause or mask mental health problems, which may go unnoticed by service providers due to the clients’ isolation. When they are noticed, multiple health conditions often require expensive treatment and sometimes hospitalization.
Social Assistance Rates
Provincial social assistance rates are inadequate to cover the costs of housing, utilities, food and transportation for rural people. For instance, a single person on Ontario Works in Hastings or Prince Edward County receives $798 a month. But the monthly rent average is $700 month, which leaves $98 for food, transportation and all other costs.”
Municipal Services
Municipalities do not have the money to support the services that people with low incomes require, because full-time residents and cottage owners pressure them to keep taxes low. Municipalities use a significant portion of their funding to keep roads safe and bridges repaired. The townships are as “poor” as their residents. Bancroft recently increased its water/sewage rates by 53%.

Come join us to discuss the latest information about sugar and our helath and join a conversation led by Dr. Stephanie Gauthier.

Lanark County housing forum slated for March 29 in Perth

The Community Action Network (CAN) and the Table Community Food Centre are in the final stages of the current housing outreach campaign; they will be hosting a wrap-up forum for community participants on March 29 in Lanark County council chambers in Perth.

Funded by a grant from the Lanark County social housing department, the campaign engaged more than 100 community members through a face-to-face survey and community meetings.

The forum on March 29 will be the culminating activity of the outreach campaign. During this final session, results of the surveys will be presented, giving participating community members from across the county a chance to meet with other people who have similar concerns and identify solutions together.

The public is invited to attend the forum in the Lanark County council chambers from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. to learn about the housing issues our neighbours are facing, and what they feel we should do about it.


For more information about the upcoming forum, please contact Beth Schilling — advocacy, social justice and volunteer co-ordinator — at or 613-267-6428, ext. 4.


The Community Action Network will be resuming it's monthly drop in meetings on the first Wednesday of the month starting on April5th.  These drop in meeetings will be discussion meetings where community members can discuss a pre picked topic of interest to participants.  The April topic will be "Community: What does it mean to you?"

How to Get Energy Assistance/Credit Program help at the Table CFC:

I. LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program)

Emergency financial assistance program to assist low-income customers who are having difficulty paying off arrears on Hydro or Enbridge Gas Bills. The maximum grant level is $500.00 per fuel, per household, per year.  (If you live in an electrically heated home you may be eligible to receive $600.00/year.)


Start the LEAP process by calling 1-855-487-5327 and doing the phone intake procedure.

You will need your utility bill to make this call. If you have been threatened with disconnection, please let the agent helping you know as they can call the provider for you and arrange for this to be put on hold or cancelled.


Once you have applied through the LEAP program (Greater Simcoe United Way) you should then call our advocacy office to see that we have received  the application via email at  613-267-6428 x29.


Complete Application at the Table during the Advocacy Office Hours (M & F: 2-5; Tues: 12-3; W: 4-6). 

WHAT  YOU WILL NEED TO BRING for the LEAP application process:

1.      ID for yourself and all household members.

2.      Proof of  income for you and all household members.

3.      Proof of rent or  mortgage.

4.      Most recent utility bill.

5.      Disconnect Notice (if you received one).

We need to speak with the person whose name is on the bill to process an application for LEAP.


II. OESP(Ontario Electricity Support Program)

A monthly credit on your bill- Eligible households can receive between $30 and $75 depending on the size of the family and household income. Households, that have electric heat as their primary source of heat or that have members who use a mechanical ventilator or an oxygen concentrator will receive larger rebates to cover their higher electricity usage. Households with 1st Nation’s, Inuit, and Metis household members, or with members who receive a CPP Disability pension, are also eligible for specific directed assistance under the program.


Complete an online application at the Table during the Advocacy Office Hours (M & F: 2-5; Tues: 12-3; W: 4-6).

WHAT  YOU WILL NEED TO BRING for the OESP application process:

1. Names and birthdates of all household members

2. Social Insurance Numbers for all household members over 18 if taxes are up to date


2. Proof of income for all household members over 18( if taxes not up to date) and for 16 & 17 year old household members

3. Most recent utility bill

We need to speak with the person whose name is on the bill to process an application for OESP.


III. HAP (Home Assistance Program)

A Program for qualified low-income customers of Hydro One. This gives assistance to customers to improve energy efficiency in their homes.  Eligible households can receive efficient lightbulbs, insulation, and more efficient appliances. You can call the advocates at 613-264-6428 x29 and they can refer you or you can call the program directly at 1-888-797-7534.