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Hear from the candidates at our Toronto mayoral debate

Image of the Toronto skyline with the words ‘2023 Toronto Mayoral Debate’, ‘Our Future, Our Vote: A Toronto for All’ and the logos of Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto Star and United Way Greater Toronto along the bottom.

This week we’re talking about the mayoral debate, our 2023 Community Campaign Cabinet, and celebrating Pride and Indigenous Heritage Months.

Dear Friend,

For decades, United Way has been fighting local poverty in Peel, Toronto and York Region. Connecting people to the support they need—food, shelter, good jobs—and digging into the issues at the root of poverty. Throughout that time, we’ve worked with leaders at all levels of government, keeping the issues affecting our communities on their agendas.

And we’re continuing that work by co-hosting Our Future, Our Vote: A Toronto for All, a debate for candidates in Toronto’s mayoral election. With our partners The Toronto Star and Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), we’ll ask candidates the important questions: What’s their plan to address growing poverty and inequality? How will they work to ensure that all of us can access affordable housing, decent work, critical services, and opportunities to shape the future of our city and region?

This Toronto mayoral debate is a perfect opportunity to invite those vying to lead Toronto to focus on the issues that matter most to those experiencing poverty, homelessness, mental health challenges, discrimination, and other structural barriers. And that is precisely United Way’s role throughout this election—to amplify those voices and experiences. That’s why we partnered with TMU’s Democratic Engagement Exchange and community partners to encourage civic engagement and hear directly from residents about the questions they want asked.

United Way works with policymakers, elected officials and city staff of all levels, stripes and leanings. But it will always be our role to advocate for underserved communities and the people who rely on our support—through submissions, open letters, partnerships on planning tables, and more. Our sustained, dogged advocacy work aims to ensure we meet the needs of residents for the months and years to come. For policies that better serve them. For systems that disrupt the barriers—sometimes obvious, sometimes invisible—that hold so many back. To not only meet urgent needs, but to work towards a region that allows people to thrive and live up to their full potential and ambitions. We simply can’t settle for less.

As you listen to the candidates during the Toronto mayoral debate on Wednesday, please think about your neighbours. Your care matters. Your vote matters.

See you Wednesday.

Always, and only, thank you. 

Daniele Zanotti
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto

Event details: Our Future, Our Vote: A Toronto for All
Time: Wednesday, May 31, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Television: CP24

Things to Know Right Now

Two headshots side by side of Dave Leonard, Partner and CEO at McCarthy Tétrault and Damon Williams, CEO at RBC Global Asset Management.
Dave Leonard, Partner and CEO at McCarthy Tétrault (left) and Damon Williams, CEO at RBC Global Asset Management

2023 Community Campaign

It’s with great pleasure that we announce that Dave Leonard, Partner and CEO at McCarthy Tétrault, will be United Way Greater Toronto’s 2023 Community Campaign Chair, and Damon Williams, CEO at RBC Global Asset Management, will be our Major Individual Giving Cabinet Chair. These long-time United Way volunteers will bring together hundreds of corporate, community and labour leaders to drive the largest fundraising campaign in the world, involving 950 workplaces, 2,200 volunteers and 85,000 donors—all united to end poverty.

In addition to our remarkable chairs, we’re incredibly proud to announce our complete campaign cabinet, community champions who are committed to helping us tackle poverty and build strong neighbourhoods. We are grateful for their partnership.

Addressing Homelessness

Homelessness is a crisis primarily for the people experiencing it, but also for every resident, as it is indicative of trends that affect livability in the city. Poverty, a lack of affordable housing and inadequate access to the right supports when and where they are needed can lead to homelessness, as our President and CEO Daniele Zanotti and Toronto Region Board of Trade’s CEO Jan De Silva discuss in a new op-ed on the factors behind homelessness and what they mean for Toronto’s next mayor. With the City of Toronto declaring homelessness an emergency, cross-sector partnerships and collaboration are needed to address the interconnected structural issues threatening the city’s livability.

Update from the Frontlines

Crowds of people in front of the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square.

Newcomer Day

The 9th annual Toronto Newcomer Day was on May 25, and our President and CEO Daniele Zanotti was thrilled to take part in the celebration. He joined the many United Way-supported organizations that were there to welcome newcomers, including Working Women Community CentreThe Neighbourhood OrganizationCOSTI and WoodGreen Community Services. These agencies offered their support to our newest neighbours, connecting people to everything from English language classes and employment programs to housing services and childcare. Funding a wide range of programs and services to support newcomers is just part of United Way’s work. We’re also a key part of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group, the Newcomer Leadership Table in Toronto and York Region’s Community Partnership Council, all of which are ensuring newcomers have the support they need when they arrive in their new homes.

National AccessAbility Week

People with disabilities are often left out of the conversation when it comes to accessibility and inclusion, which is why the work of people like Sam is so important. After attending United Way-funded Community Living Toronto programs, Sam, who has autism spectrum disorder, went on to volunteer and then work for the organization, raising awareness around acceptance and inclusion by sharing his own story.

From May 28 to June 3, National AccessAbility Week is an opportunity to amplify what advocates have long been calling for, to break down barriers that block inclusion and accessibility in our region, like more inclusive hiring practices, greater accessibility in public spaces and increases to the Ontario Disability Support Program and federal benefits. Despite a recent five per cent increase to ODSP, a single individual receives $14,700 a year, well below the poverty line. That’s why we fund agencies and programs that equip people with disabilities to live independently, while also supporting projects that identify system-level changes to improve policy and practices.

Get Involved

A white background with “National Indigenous History Month” written out with 3 illustrations: an eagle representing First Nations, a narwhal representing Inuit, and a violin representing Métis. These illustrations are placed around the sun and surrounded by multicoloured smoke that represents Indigenous traditions, spirituality, inclusion and diversity.

Indigenous History Month

In June we recognize and honour Indigenous History Month. Many United Way-funded agencies are taking the opportunity to educate and celebrate:

Pride Month

June is also Pride Month, and United Way-funded The 519 is holding their Pride Speaker Series virtually throughout June as well as a panel on anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate, with Enough is Enough on May 31. There will be celebrations in PeelYork Region, and Toronto, where United Way will be marching in the annual Pride Parade on June 25.

2023 Annual and Special Meeting of the Members

Join us at our virtual 2023 Annual and Special Meeting of the Members on June 22 to learn more about the progress we are making together. This year, we’ll be welcoming former Mayor of Calgary Naheed Nenshi as our keynote speaker and will hear his thoughts on city building and the challenges and hope of creating truly inclusive communities. Register now.

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