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May 9, 2020

Smiling senior woman.
Dear ,

Many of you have reached out to me over the past couple of weeks to let me know that you’re worried about our community’s seniors. They’re some of the GTA’s most vulnerable citizens and the pandemic has put them in an even more precarious position. In fact, the Toronto Seniors Helpline reports that calls are up 1,000 per cent over last year.

This week we started to roll out $850,000 in funding from the Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program. This is the GTA portion of the $9 million in funding they announced at the end of March, and we have distributed it to 45 programs across the GTA. Your generous donations to our Local Love Fund are supporting an additional 55 emergency programs that specifically address the urgent needs of GTA seniors.

If you’ve got an elderly parent, neighbour or friend, reach out to them this week with a phone call, email or drive-by visit. It’ll mean so much. Because, now more than ever, connection and community matter. Thanks for being part of ours.

Always, and only, thank you.

Daniele Zanotti signature
Daniele Zanotti
President & CEO


    We are administering the Peel, Toronto and York allotment of $850,000 from the Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program. Here are three examples of programming that received funding this week:

    • Afghan Women's Organization Refugee and Immigrant Services (Toronto): This program hosts weekly virtual sharing circles to reduce isolation and provide information about COVID-19. It also provides basic hygiene supplies to isolated senior women.

    • Centre for Immigrant and Community Services (York Region): This program delivers nutritious meals and packaged groceries to isolated Chinese seniors. It also provides meal planning by a qualified dietitian.

    • Caledon Community Services (Peel): This program provides virtual visits and increased supports during home visits, including meals, co-ordination for groceries, medication and cognitive and social programming. Food delivery will also take place in rural areas.

    The COVID-19 Community Coordination (3C) initiative is a joint partnership between York Region, United Way Greater Toronto, local municipal partners, community organizations and other key stakeholders to support York Region’s most vulnerable residents during COVID-19. The group meets virtually twice weekly to provide primary support and communication, identify key challenges and help implement initiatives that emerge from service partners and community response tables.


  Our agencies are hard at work on the frontlines and their staff are often risking their own health and safety to support our most vulnerable citizens. Here are a few recent examples of how your support is allowing our agencies to respond to community needs right now:

Eden Food for Change.

Eden Food for Change (EFFC)

EFFC is a United Way agency in Peel that serves people and families facing hunger.

Because of United Way’s flexible funding made possible by your support:
  • The agency remains open to give families in need access to good food and essential items during the pandemic. They’re able to do this vital work by implementing additional safety measures and moving from their traditional food distribution model, where clients select their own items, to offering food hampers.

Woman looking at a web page on a computer.

Workers’ Action Centre

Workers’ Action Centre is a United Way-supported agency in Toronto that is committed to improving the lives and working conditions of workers in low-wage and precarious positions.

Because of United Way’s flexible funding made possible by your support:
  • The agency, although closed for workshops or drop-ins, has expanded its daily phone line hours to field frequent questions from community about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other federal and local employment-related supports. They are also continuing to update their website with evolving developments to workers’ rights in Ontario.


  Screen capture from webinar, displaying four faces of participants.

Earlier this week I hosted our third webinar on how we’re supporting seniors, many of them isolated, across the GTA. I was joined by leaders from United Way-funded organizations CHATS, Bernard Betel Centre and Punjabi Community Health Services to talk about how we’re keeping both emergency and flexible funds flowing.




  • The City of Toronto announced a new program last week that is providing temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness in two mid-town apartment buildings. This Toronto man, who was previously experiencing homelessness, shares his story of how he’s looking forward to taking a bubble bath after being moved into a temporary apartment.


Calendar entry.
Our annual town halls in York Region and Peel are coming up on June 3 and June 11. Join us for a virtual discussion on our community response to COVID-19 and our ongoing work strengthening local communities.


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