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Healthy People, Strong Communities

United Way believes in building a region that is great for everyone—made up of healthy, equitable, and vibrant communities.

The issue

In every community, there are individuals and families that need support, people who face barriers to services or resources, and those who are socially excluded based on their identity, gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, ability, or economic status.  

1 in 3

caregivers in Canada are distressed, which can include feelings of anger or depression, or the inability to continue with caring activities. 


of Ottawa’s Black community who tried to access mental health services felt prejudice or negative attitudes from their service providers. 


Canadians in severely food-insecure households are seven times more likely to report moderate or severe anxiety symptoms than those in food-secure households. 


of seniors in Canada live alone, making them more vulnerable to social isolation. 

Our response

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: 

Equity in communities 

United Way leads and serves as the backbone for United for All, a coalition of more than 150 partners committed to overcoming hate-based violence, racism, and extremism in East Ontario.
is a tool developed by United Way, the City of Ottawa, and the Social Planning Council of Ottawa in 2018 to assess how neighbourhoods compare when it comes to factors that impact wellbeing. An exciting recent development in the use of NEI data was the development of a Summary Portrait of Ottawa’s Black Community in comparison with the general population.

Prioritizing community safety and wellbeing  

is an initiative supported by United Way and Women United donors that helps residents build skills and confidence to make positive changes together. The work of CCWW graduates has been essential during the pandemic, as some used their skills to increase access to COVID-19 information and vaccines, leading to higher vaccination rates.
This initiative is the only program in Renfrew County that provides a holistic approach to care. It leverages Indigenous beliefs and healing techniques— combined with current clinical models— focusing on culture, language, and land. 

is a key data tool that maps how seniors throughout the East Ontario region are doing, based on key indicators such as age, income and education levels, location, and access to in-home support. The Seniors Vulnerability Index has two immediate goals: 1) To understand where seniors across all our communities are most vulnerable and visualize the trends that contribute to this vulnerability. 2) To create a method by which we can enhance efficiency and decision-making to provide seniors with better care, where it’s needed most.

During the four-week long convoy occupation in Ottawa, United Way worked closely with more than 35 social service partners to support staff and clients who experienced intense levels of trauma, fear, and anxiety. In that time United Way made a one-time immediate investment to help cover unplanned costs for our partners. We also ensured we amplified the voice of the sector calling attention to the effect the occupation was having on those most vulnerable.

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 

98% of individuals felt supported and had their stress levels reduced. 

26,466 individuals received crisis supports.

Outcome: Seniors have improved wellbeing and are less isolated 

80% of seniors reported decreased isolation. 

2,542 seniors reported decreased isolation.

Outcome: Neighbourhoods work together to achieve positive change 

2,610 residents came together to engage on issues of shared importance.

Outcome: Adults in crisis have access to supports 

54% of clients experienced a reduction in stress and anxiety. 

13,911 clients experienced a reduction in stress and anxiety. 

Outcome: Adults have access to mental health and addiction supports 

98% of clients saw an improvement to their mental health. 

14,089 clients had access to mental health and addiction supports. 

Outcome: Individuals have access to healthy foods and physical activity 

84% of children ate healthier, increased their physical activity, and/or moved towards a healthy weight. 

4,211 children and youth participated in physical activity and/or healthy food access/nutrition programs. 

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. 

  1. I want to…

    help people in crisis.

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  2. I want to…

    support newcomers.

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  3. I want to...

    celebrate diversity.

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  4. I want to…

    fuel inclusion.

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  5. I want to…

    end hate and violence.

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  6. I want to…

    make sure every kid graduates.

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  7. I want to…

    end youth homelessness.

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    show my local love.

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  9. I want to…

    help seniors thrive.

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