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2023-24:

Year in Review

A photo of two greenhouse employees looking at information on a tablet.

2023-24: Year in Review

A Message from Our Interim President and CEO

As social challenges persist across our region, I am buoyed by the tireless efforts of our volunteers and donors, who remain steadfast in their commitment to making our communities better every day.

At United Way East Ontario, we understand the toll that cost-of-living increases and an ongoing mental health crisis continues to take on vulnerable people. But in the face of these circumstances, we’re finding new ways to make positive changes in the lives of those who need us most.

This report offers an opportunity to look at how your support makes a measurable difference, and I hope it allows you to connect more deeply with your community, and the solutions we’re fueling to make it stronger every day. With your continued support we can keep improving lives and creating opportunities for those who depend on us.

With gratitude,

Dennise Taylor-Gilhen
Interim President and Chief Executive Officer
United Way East Ontario

A headshot of Dennise Taylor-Gilhen

Our Investments Across the Region

This online preview of our annual report is just a snapshot of what we’ve accomplished together over the past year in Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark County and Renfrew County.

See how we’re creating lasting social change through three focus areas:

All That
Kids Can Be

By putting more kids on track to succeed, we can help all youth in our communities reach their full potential.

From Poverty to Possibility

By helping people achieve financial independence and stability, we can break the cycle of poverty.

Healthy People, Strong Communities

By improving equity, connections and wellbeing for vulnerable groups, our communities can be great for everyone.

In 2022-23, we invested in:

106

collaborations and initiatives

115

programs

106

community agencies
0

collaborations
and initiatives

0

programs

0

community
agencies

As a result of these investments:

87,871

people were supported

3,092

people volunteered with our agency partners

206,940

total volunteer hours
0

people were supported

0

people volunteered with our agency partners

0

total volunteer
hours

All That
Kids Can Be

Every child deserves a good life, and a safe place to learn and make friends—no matter where they grow up.

When youth have a space to call their own, they’re more likely to succeed in the classroom as well as be valuable members of the community.

A photo of a child playing with a toy tractor.

The Issue

Growing up is hard for some local kids, especially after the pandemic. Many children face developmental delays, behavioural issues, stress, and isolation. Their families also struggle with mental health, financial strain, and limited childcare. As these issues persist, youth are increasingly at risk of homelessness and serious mental health and substance use challenges. 

2 in 5

Ottawa students struggle with mental health. 1 in 3 reported that their ability to handle an unexpected crisis or difficult family or friend problem was fair or poor.

Grade 7-8

students in Ottawa were just as likely to report non-medical opioid use as those in grades 9-12 (10%). 

91%

of front-line providers serving homeless youth in Canada during the pandemic reported youth had experienced a significant increase in feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Our Response

Partnering to prevent addiction

A photo of someone giving a speech.

project step is a community-wide initiative led by United Way East Ontario to prevent and respond to substance use issues among Ottawa youth, in partnership with Ottawa Public Health, the Ottawa Network for Education, all four Ottawa school boards, and community agencies.  

Research conducted this past year identified gaps and improvements for youth mental health and substance use services. Based on these findings, project step set new goals for 2023-2025 and appointed Dr. Paul Roumeliotis as Chair.

Building bridges to graduation

A photo of kids celebrating in a classroom.

In September, we convened leaders from the Ottawa Catholic School Board, the Ottawa Neighbhourhood Study, Operation Come Home, BGC Renfrew, Carlington Community Health Centre, to discuss how high school graduation sets up a young person for success in life. 

There are many people and organizations in our region working together on this issue. By showcasing impactful programs and identifying barriers as well as promising practices, we can support education equity for all youth.

Our Impact

With our supporters, United Way helped 19,857 youth and their families across our region reach their full potential in 2022-2023. Together, we can help them along their path to success and achieve results, such as: 

Outcomes
Results
Children and youth have improved mental health
65% of children and youth have improved mental health outcomes and developed positive coping strategies.
467 children and youth reported improved emotional wellbeing and developed positive coping strategies.
Children and youth are successful in school
9,700 children and youth worked towards achieving academic goals outside of school.
Children and youth experiencing homelessness receive supports
87% of youth living in emergency shelters or transitional housing received supports to live independently. 
132 youth living in emergency shelters or transitional housing received supports to live independently.

Our Goals for the Future

In 2024 and beyond, we’ll work with our partners to …  

Want to learn more? Dive into the full All That Kids Can Be section of the report.

From Poverty
To Possibility

Everyone deserves a job, a purpose, and a sense of belonging.

The donors supporting United Way really care about mental health and access to employment in the community. They are helping to bridge that gap for people who are struggling to find and maintain work.

The Issue

Poverty isn’t a level playing field. Stigma and bias around age, background, race, and gender keep talented people from finding jobs and achieving financial independence. In rural areas, limited transportation and poor internet access make it harder to reach essential services and opportunities. 

8.5%

of racialized populations are unemployed in Ontario, compared to 5.5% of non-racialized people.  

~59%

of working age adults with disabilities are employed compared to 80% of those without disabilities. 

1 in 5

single mothers live in low-income situations in Ontario, and almost half (44%) of single mothers with young children are living below the poverty line. 

Our Response

Building inclusive workplaces

A photo of two people moving items into a home.

Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO) helps organizations access the talents of skilled immigrants by collaborating with employers, immigrant agencies, and stakeholders. In 2023-2024, HIO created a five-part Cross-Cultural Management workshop series to teach best practices and strategies for inclusive recruitment, onboarding, and management of newcomer employees 

HIO also published a resource on inclusive onboarding, offering guidance to effectively integrate and support newcomer employees, developed with input from HR professionals, immigrant-serving organizations, and other experts.

Connecting service providers

A photo of someone working hard at their office computer.

When service providers highlighted that many potential clients didn’t know about the resources and programs available to them, United Way responded to address this need and discuss solutions.  
 
Recognizing the intersectionality of clients served by Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO), Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN), and the Indigenous Employment Leadership Advisory Table (IELAT) stakeholders, we hosted an event where service providers discussed the populations they serve and explored how to best refer clients among them. This information and the connections made is helping to ensure that job seekers, especially those with intersecting identities, learn about programs they may not have otherwise known about.

Our Impact

With our supporters, United Way helped 4,912 people move from poverty to possibility in 20222023. Together, we can help them achieve financial independence and achieve results, such as:      

Outcomes
Results
People with disabilities are engaged in the labour market
47% of job seekers with disabilities found employment.
1,172 job seekers with disabilities found employment.
Youth are supported in their transition to employment
108 youth enrolled in an education program, secondary school, or job training program.
People in financial crisis receive supports
1,791 people in financial crisis received financial services and supports.

Our Goals for the Future

In 2024 and beyond, we’ll work with our partners to …  

Want to learn more? Dive into the full From Poverty to Possibility section of the report.

Healthy People, Strong Communities

Everyone deserves the chance to be heard, included, and supported.

I really appreciated that, thanks to funding from United Way East Ontario, I could access free or low-cost counselling with Counselling Connect and Family Services Ottawa [...] These therapy sessions were validating, and they provided me with some of the tools I needed to return to work.

A photo of a family having a good laugh together.

The Issue

A community’s strength depends on the health and wellbeing of its residents, but many people lack access to much-needed support. Our networks continue to raise concerns about the high rates of stress families feel, senior isolation and caregiver burnout, increased crisis situations like violence in homes, as well as declining mental health.  

34%

of Ontario residents report that their current mental health is worse or much worse compared to pre-pandemic.  

Every five seconds

someone in Ontario visits a food bank. In the year before the pandemic, it was every 10 seconds. 

42.1%

of unpaid caregivers in Ontario are in distress. Caregivers in distress spend the equivalent of a full-time job providing care. 

Our Response

Advancing gender equality

A photo of people posing for a photo.

United Way East Ontario co-chairs Concerté.e.s pour l’égalité (which translates to Concerted for Equality) with Leadership féminin Prescott-Russell to work towards eliminating gender equality barriers in Prescott-Russell. In February 2024, they released “Portrait of the Status of Women in Prescott-Russell,” funded partly by United Way’s Tomorrow Fund™.  

This report marks an initial effort to understand the realities faced by women in Prescott-Russell. It covers health, safety, economic participation, governance issues, and systemic barriers.

Addressing caregiving needs

A photo of people in a boardroom having a discussion.

Following the release of the Eastern Ontario Caregiver Strategy in 2020 and knowing the impact of the pandemic on seniors and caregivers, United Way took stock of the progress made. In spring 2023, we brought experts together to discuss caregiving and the continued challenges stemming from the pandemic. Further conversations resulted in an update that outlines progress, remaining gaps, and priority areas of focus.  

The caregiver strategy remains relevant as the already thinly-stretched health and social service sector continues to rely heavily on caregivers to fill gaps in programs, services, and human resources. 

Our Impact

With our supporters, United Way helped 77,583 people across our region to improve equity, wellbeing, and connections in 20222023. Together, we can build stronger communities and achieve results, such as: 

Outcomes
Results
Seniors have improved wellbeing and are less isolated
77% of seniors reported decreased isolation.
899 seniors reported decreased isolation. 
Adults have access to mental health and addiction supports
83% of clients saw an improvement to their mental health.
8,978 clients had access to mental health and addiction supports.
Individuals have access to healthy foods and physical activity
86% of children ate healthier, increased their physical activity, and/or moved towards a healthy weight. 
4,107 children and youth participated in physical activity and/or healthy food access/nutrition programs.

Our Goals for the Future

In 2024 and beyond, we’ll work with our partners to …  

Want to learn more? Dive into the full Healthy People, Strong Communities section of the report.

Supporting Sector Stability

The Community Services Recovery Fund

More people than ever are reaching out to social and community services to make ends meet. Inflation, fears of a recession, and rising costs of living have made it more difficult to access basic needs like food, housing, and transportation.  

In its 2021 budget, the Government of Canada announced a one-time investment of $400 million to support charities and non-profits as they focus on how to adapt their organizations for pandemic recovery. The Community Services Recovery Fund (CSRF) was invested by the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations, and United Ways across the country.   

The creative minds behind the innovative food programs.

Community services are always under resourced and underfunded, so when we have opportunities like the Community Services Recovery Fund, we really try to upgrade our infrastructure and get ourselves set up so that we are more sustainable at what we do.

What's New

As we reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and look to the future, we’re excited to highlight some of the new developments that have been made possible by the continued support of our dedicated donors. 

100% Local Impact

At United Way, we’re committed to 100% local impact. That means every dollar we invest stays in the community where it was raised—where it’s needed most and will have the greatest impact. Our annual report, which includes our financial statements, is our way of showing you, our donors and supporters, that we’ve kept that promise.

The Power of Partnership

United Way mobilizes the power of caring communities to address the most serious social issues. But, we don’t do it alone. 

By bringing donors and people from different organizations together to solve problems—from businesses, non-profits, governments, and more—we can make our communities measurably better. 

We see that tangible difference in our conversations with sector leaders, in the stories of people whose lives have been touched by our work, and in the numbers reflected in this report. These inspiring results are possible because of supporters like you. Thank you.

Last Updated: July 16, 2024