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United Way, local health authorities, and front-line agencies coordinate community and social service response to Covid-19


Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Ottawa — Today, with the support of regional health authorities, Ottawa Public Health, front-line agencies, municipalities and other partners, United Way East Ontario is asking the community to help support the most vulnerable, as we continue to coordinate community and social service supports in response to the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) across our region. 

A few weeks ago, Ottawa Public Health requested that United Way take action and work with local social service agencies and local partners to determine the social needs emerging in the community as we all collectively respond to COVID-19. After an initial meeting with many different social service agencies, various needs were identified, particularly for those most vulnerable including people who live in poverty, seniors, and others.

“We know many people across our region cannot afford to prepare, and do not have a support system around them if they contract Covid-19 or need to self-isolate. As the needs evolve, we need to ensure the most vulnerable are supported. We’ve asked United Way to be a strong partner as this public health challenge changes.”

Working with community partners, United Way has identified the following needs, while anticipating they will continue to grow:

  • Help for seniors – ensure that while vulnerable people are isolated, they are also supported
  • Basic needs – ensure people have access to life’s essentials, such as food
  • Capacity for community services – ensure that community partners can continue to do their vital local work
  • Mental health support – enable crisis lines and system navigation services
  • Support for volunteers – there are amazing people rallying to support others – they need our help too

“While public health authorities and local hospitals – doctors, nurses and other front-line staff — have been working to prepare for cases across our region – it is important to work with partners like United Way and others to ensure local social services can offer support where it is needed,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and United Way board member. “As the situation evolves, so too will the needs in the community. While people care for their families and those closest to them, we urge you to think of those who may need extra support to prepare, or those who need support while in self-isolation.”

United Way has launched this initiative to help with coordination efforts and raise funds for those most vulnerable. The site will provide information and referral, as well as allow for people to make a donation to support those most in need. Visit the website at

“As we did with the floods and tornado, we will work with key partners including health authorities, community organizations, front-line agencies and newly created volunteer groups as they emerge, by investing to support the communities we serve in this time of great need,” said Michael Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Way. “It is our role to aid in the ongoing support of our community, and to ensure that vulnerable populations are not left behind.”

About United Way East Ontario:

Working with communities in Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark and Renfrew Counties, United Way East Ontario invests resources where they are needed most and will have the greatest impact. Through research, evaluation and partnerships with community experts, we identify the root causes of the biggest social challenges facing our communities and help find solutions that change tens of thousands of lives for the better. 100% of donations to United Way are put to work in the communities where they are raised to help those most in need.

Note that interviews for this initiative will be coordinated via Zoom or Skype to adhere to social distancing guidelines from public health authorities.  

Twitter: @UnitedWayEO 




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