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Pushing for systems change

Photo of two people wearing masks holding up a frame that says “Housing is a human right!”
Courtesy of Black Creek Fair Economies

Why United Ways across Ontario issued an urgent call for action to the provincial government

Dear Friend,

Rent eclipsing income, lineups at food banks, multiple jobs to make ends meet, distress lines and mental health services beyond capacity—these are the realities of so many people living in the GTA.

With a renewed provincial government and new cabinet announced, United Ways across Ontario issued an urgent call for action on July 6 through an open letter to Premier Doug Ford and Ministers, asking Premier Ford and his cabinet to work with us, to ensure all Ontarians have a chance at a better life.

Our 21 recommendations to address the toughest challenges facing Ontarians focus on four keys areas. Many of these recommendations position us for a future where we address the root causes of inequities that are leaving groups of people and entire neighbourhoods behind.

Affordable housing: Rent control policies, homes with rent-geared-to-income, and social housing are all ways to expand and protect affordable housing in our province.

Good wages and jobs: We need economic dignity with wages that reflect the cost of living, and programs like the Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works need to be raised to livable levels.

Inclusive neighbourhoods: Anti-hate and anti-racism public education, relationship building, and support for victims of hate needs to come from the top levels of government to ensure our communities include everyone.

Stronger sector: We must do more to protect the vital work of the social services sector by providing flexible, long-term funding to deliver essential services and allocate resources that so many Ontarians depend on.

Together, we have done great work to move forward on issues like precarious work and paid sick days, but this open letter asks the government to do more. The seeds are there. How can we grow them so everyone, regardless of their identity, income, or the neighbourhood they live in, can benefit?

We encourage government to champion the practical, ambitious public policy needed to build a brighter future across the GTA and in every corner of our province, working as partners, in a united way.

Always, and only, thank you. 

Daniele Zanotti
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto

Things to Know Right Now

Promotional poster for the 2022 Muslim Association of Canada convention


Our President & CEO, Daniele Zanotti, was honoured to speak at the 2022 Muslim Association of Canada convention earlier this month with more than 4,000 delegates in attendance. He joined colleagues from the non-profit sector to discuss how non-profits and community organizations can shift to a grassroots, community-centered approach of philanthropy that places the voices of communities at the forefront of our efforts. As an organization that strives to do everything with and for community—including the Muslim communities that many of our agencies serve—this conversation was a great opportunity to share our own approach and to learn from others.

Photo of five women dressed in aprons and caps making food in an industrial kitchen
Courtesy of Eden Food for Change

Income Inequality

United Way partner Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) has released a paper highlighting how wage disparity is driving the non-profit sector’s staffing crisis. Workers are leaving the sector in droves, which means fewer much-needed programs and services for our communities. But ONN has also outlined eight solutions to make wage parity a reality, including several that align closely with United Way’s current approach: share information with other non-profits and align on minimum standards for wages, work with government to develop a workforce strategy, and collaborate with workers, unions and employers to make clear the cost of not supporting community care workers.

United Way is proud to be an Ontario Living Wage Employer, but we know there is more we can do as an employer and sector leader when it comes to this issue. We’re grateful to ONN for sharing their findings—and are committed to supporting income equality as an employer and a funder.

Local Love in Action

Screenshot of Octavia from the Underwriting Associate program

Last year, we were thrilled to share that United Way had partnered with CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals and Zurich Canada on a new pilot program that helped talented youth facing multiple barriers to employment start careers in the insurance industry. Today, we wanted to share an update from one of those young people. Watch the video above to learn more about Octavia and the impact this program has had on her.

And if you want to learn more about how United Way’s Career Navigator™ program is helping young people across the GTA embark on their careers, check out our annual report.

Get Involved

Join us at the ILEO Community Market

Support Golden Mile entrepreneurs at the ILEO Community Market! Every Saturday this July and August, you can discover locally created clothing, home goods and beauty products while enjoying food and entertainment for the whole family. Find the market at RioCan Warden, near the intersection of Warden Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East.

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