From Poverty to Possibility

United Way believes that everyone deserves a job, a purpose, and a sense of belonging. Together, we can ensure more people in our communities achieve financial independence and stability.

The issue

Across our region, there continues to be major barriers to inclusion and success in the workforce. Indigenous peoples, youth, newcomers, Black and racialized communities, vulnerable women, and people with disabilities often face stigma, misinformed perceptions, and biased or outdated assumptions—resulting in financially precarious situations.

In rural parts of our region, the digital divide and lack of or limited public transportation make access to services more challenging. Ensuring access to information for those who face language, literacy, or connectivity issues continues to be of great importance.

9.2%

of racialized populations are unemployed in Canada, compared to 7.3% of non-racialized people. 

59%

of Ontario high-school students used of working age adults with disabilities are employed, compared to 80% of those without disabilities. 

70%

of Canada’s job losses from February-April 2020 were jobs held by women—many of which were working part-time in low-paid service and care work. 

YOUTH
UNEMPLOYMENT

Young people ages 15-24 face higher unemployment rates than people ages 25-64 in every area of our region. Across Ontario, youth unemployment rates are even higher for Indigenous youth, youth with disabilities, newcomer youth, and racial minorities. 

Our response

Our role as a convener means we’re able to leverage our network of partners and donors to help our communities create solutions that will work across our region. We do this through initiatives that unite key stakeholders on a collective mission: 

Building Community Wealth 

United Way’s networks are vast and include connections to many sectors, industries, businesses, governments, elected officials, social services, and community leaders. By convening community champions and experts, we are building connections across East Ontario and linking organizations with the tools they need to reimagine business ecosystems in ways that benefit everyone—including the most marginalized people in our communities.

In October 2021, United Way gathered more than 120 key organizations, community leaders, government officials, businesses, and others at the East Ontario Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth Summit. At this event, powered by RBC, participants discussed the tools of community wealth building that we can use to make our aspirations for more equitable communities a reality.

United Way’s networks are vast and include connections to many sectors, industries, businesses, governments, elected officials, social services and community leaders. This puts us in a unique position to create opportunities for people who are left behind by existing economic systems and to break down barriers. By convening community champions and experts, we are building connections across East Ontario and connecting organizations with the tools they need to reimagine business ecosystems in ways that benefit everyone—including the most marginalized people in our communities.

Equity in Employment 

leaned on its members, Accenture, and the John Howard Society of Ottawa, to deliver virtual workshops on recognizing and managing stress in the workplace. Thirteen job seekers with disabilities and 66 employers, represented by 130 participants, benefitted from these workshops.

This four-part learning series enhances skills and builds confidence in shaping accessible recruitment and job retention practices. Given that people with disabilities are disproportionately underrepresented in the labour market, these workshops help employers understand the key elements to accessing this untapped talent pool, while ensuring an equitable economic recovery from COVID-19 that includes people with disabilities.
enhances employers’ ability to access the talents of skilled immigrants in the Ottawa area by bringing together employers, immigrant agencies and stakeholders. In 2021, HIO developed and launched a three-part workshop series on fostering a workplace culture of inclusion and belonging.

The outcomes

United Way also partners with local, front-line agencies to deliver vital programs and services that help improve lives, break down barriers, and create opportunities for our region’s most vulnerable people. These include job training and mentoring for Indigenous Peoples, youth, newcomers and people with disabilities, as well as education for employers. As part of our commitment to measuring our impact, we track and report how these investments make a difference. 

Outcome: People are engaged in the labour market 

91% of supported individuals found or maintained employment. 

2,334 individuals were supported in their search for employment.

1,419 supported individuals found or maintained employment. 

Outcome: Newcomers are engaged in the labour market 

85% of newcomers found employment. 

463 newcomers found employment.

Outcome: People with disabilities are engaged in the labour market 

95% of job seekers with disabilities found employment. 

895 job seekers with disabilities found employment.

Outcome: Equity deserving groups are engaged in the labour market 

374 employers increased their knowledge of barriers to employment faced by priority populations.

Outcome: Youth are supported in their transition to employment 

72% of youth found or maintained employment. 

40 youth (ages 15-24) gained employment.

Results from 2021 investments

As we continue to align our work across Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Lanark County and Renfrew County, our reporting on outcomes will grow and strengthen each year. This year, for the first time, our outcomes reflect results from across the region. 

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