Photo credit: CBC News
For weeks, United Way Canada, with United Way East Ontario, other United Ways and charities across the country, have been working with and encouraging the Government of Canada to support the work of the charitable sector.
We are encouraged by the Government of Canada’s $350 million investment to support the charitable sector – right here in East Ontario, and across the country. We will work closely with our local partners including the Canadian Red Cross and Community Foundations Canada to coordinate and deploy critical funds in our local community to support those most in need.
We were heartened by a $9 million investment in United Ways to support vulnerable seniors on March 29th. Today’s investment is further recognition of how United Way works quickly to achieve measurable impact for local communities across Canada.
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:
“…even before this pandemic, charities and nonprofit organizations are doing crucial work to help our communities. Their mission has always been to support people in their time of need and that hasn’t changed. COVID-19 is putting a tremendous amount of pressure to support those in need more than ever.”
We are grateful to him for recognition, but also our local Members of Parliament who have been supportive of our local response to the pandemic.
By Michael Allen
President and CEO,
United Way East Ontario
Taking the lead during a global crisis
The social challenges people face on a regular basis are only heightened as our communities grapple with COVID-19. In fact, in many cases, things have gotten much worse. In our region, we’ve seen first-hand how frontline agencies are struggling with new ways of providing vital social services to homeless youth, women and children fleeing violence, people living in poverty, isolated seniors and many others.
In the early days of this crisis, United Way East Ontario, municipalities, health authorities and community sector partners took strong first steps to support the most vulnerable at the local level. We continue to meet weekly to tackle the tough challenges together.
United Way is best positioned to assess the greatest needs and rapidly deliver the greatest impact for the most vulnerable. Our breadth of expertise, commitment to evidence-based work, vast network of local partners and record of results-based accountability enables us to respond to this crisis swiftly and decisively.
What we have learned from events like the tornadoes and floods is that responding to these circumstances takes more than just money to solve problems – it also takes collaboration, innovation, and a close understanding of the needs. That’s why we are proud to see an ongoing commitment from organizations on the frontlines who are identifying and adapting to the changing needs, and from new partners coming to the table to provide their skills, knowledge and expertise.
So far, we have seen some great examples of this during COVID-19:
- We’ve seen success by establishing innovative partnerships with organizations like Ruckify, who have delivered more than a hundred laptops, cellphones, tablets and webcams to frontline agencies so they can continue to serve homeless youth, people with mental health challenges, seniors, and more.
- Human connection is a lifeline for many individuals in our communities, and COVID-19 has made it difficult for at-risk individuals to reach the services they need. We are constantly working with our partners to reimagine their services for digital and remote platforms, and to find solutions that fit within public health physical distancing guidelines.
- Furthermore, we’ve provided resources to mobilize volunteers to help deliver meals, groceries and other basic necessities for people living in isolation.
The Government of Canada’s investment will be available to us soon, but until then, we will continue our work of evaluating the needs in our community, and collaborating with local organizations to address those challenges quickly and creatively.
This crisis is far from over.
We will use the resources provided by the Government of Canada to build on our existing work, to pivot to address new needs as they emerge, and to reach even more people who need help.
It is certain, we will still need support to do more to respond to the growing needs by securing additional corporate partnerships, enabling volunteers, and calling on those who can continue to donate to support this work over the long-term.
We are committed to standing with the most vulnerable—today, next month, and next year.
The work ahead will be challenging but United Way and our partners are up to the task.