Healthy People, Strong Communities

Ensuring our communities are great for everyone by improving equity, connections and overall well-being.

The issue

United Way understands that residents have a strong connection to where they live—their city, their town, their neighbourhoods, their street—these are the communities that drive change, protect and support, and shape lives and livelihoods. But, we also understand the barriers to success.


in Ontario will be touched by a mental health issue.


In Ottawa, opioid overdose emergency department visits approximately doubled in 2017.


report feelings of loneliness.


of long-term caregivers in Ontario report being distressed or unable to continue to provide care due to stress.


in Ottawa live alone. In some neighbourhoods it’s as high as 53%, making them more vulnerable to social isolation.


of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in their lives.

Our response

Working in the communities of Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark County and Renfrew County, United Way East Ontario is committed to building healthy and vibrant communities for people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances.

Our goal is to create equity across neighbourhoods by building a set of social, economic, cultural, healthy living and civic engagement opportunities for all residents. Part of how we do this is through initiatives that bring key community stakeholders together to pursue a collective mission. These include:

The ONSCF was established in 2011 to create stronger neighbourhoods, with the objective of increasing resident-led initiatives in priority neighbourhoods. Since then, resident engagement has increased 258 per cent, contributing more than 27,000 volunteer hours and working with an increasing number of partners (up 112 per cent over nine years).
Creating the Change We Want (CCWW) is a United Way funded initiative that helps residents build skills and confidence to work on making positive changes together. Over the past five years, more than 400 resident leaders and front-line staff have been paired and trained to get neighbours talking and working together on issues where they live. The kinds of skills that the initiative helps develop include engaging other residents, building positive relationships among neighbours, running effective meetings, learning about advocacy and more. CCWWsessions are led by neighbourhood leaders and community developers in Ottawa’s priority neighbourhoods.
United Way’s Successful Aging Strategic Council is a partnership between donors, seniors, service providers, organization representatives, business leaders, government, educators and other funders. This group convenes to provide leadership, direction and support to United Way in relation to seniors and aging through the development of resources, partnerships, alliances, projects and initiatives within and across sectors. In the Summer/Fall of 2019, we launched Successful Aging Strategic Councils in Prescott-Russell and Lanark County

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 day programs for seniors, 24/7 crisis lines, mental health and addiction supports, and resident-led, community-building initiatives. As part of our commitment to measuring our impact, we track and report how these investments make a difference.

Outcome: People in crisis have access to immediate supports

63% of individuals felt supported and had their stress levels reduced

42,690 individuals received crisis supports

Outcome: Seniors have improved wellbeing and are less isolated

75% of seniors reported decreased isolation

1,168 seniors reported decreased isolation

Outcome: Neighbourhoods work together to achieve positive change

8,477 residents came together to engage on issues of shared importance

Outcome: Adults have access to mental health and addiction supports

88% of clients experienced a reduction in stress and anxiety

1,169 clients experienced a reduction in stress and anxiety

Outcome: Individuals have access to health and physical activity

72% of children are healthier, increased their physical activity, and/or moved towards a healthy weight

422 children and youth participated in physical activity and/or healthy food access/nutrition program

Results (In 2018-19)

A note on numbers:  In 2017, the four United Ways of Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark and Renfrew Counties decided to join forces. Today, we operate as one entity: United Way East Ontario. As we evolve and increasingly see and seize opportunities to work cross-regionally, more data will become available to report on the local needs and investment outcomes in all of the communities we serve. For this reason, for now, many of the facts and stats on this page are Ottawa-specific as it represents our largest investment footprint.

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