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We all have a role to play in building a better GTA

Photo of a group of people and two children dressed in summer clothing posing outside.
Courtesy of Toronto Centre of Learning & Development

Election day has come and gone, but it’s up to all of us to keep pressing for positive change

Dear Friend,

You are reading this just days after Ontario went to the polls in the first provincial election since our world was upended by a pandemic that has deeply impacted members of our community who were already living precariously: those who are underhoused, those who are underemployed and those who have long been under-supported and face systemic barriers. And throughout, United Way Greater Toronto has worked alongside elected representatives of all political stripes, civil servants at all levels of government, and our network of more than 300 agencies to fight poverty, deliver food, expand mental health services and so much more.   

United Way has always been a bridge between social services and government because our community, our economy and our region all benefit when we work hand-in-glove. United, we are an exponential force for good, one our community will need as we navigate the uncertain times ahead. Record-high inflation and unaffordability only compound challenges and perpetuate deep need. Needs that must continue to be met by a resilient yet strained sector that at times has been running on fumes—frustrated, exhausted and disrupted too—but still the lifeline that so many rely on.   

Investment in a strong and sustainable nonprofit sector is vital to our shared future—and not just to respond to urgent and basic needs. But also, to tackle troubling systemic issues that rob our province of its full potential:   

  • housing that is beyond the means of low- to modest-income families, let alone the twin tragedies of mental illness and poverty that are increasing homelessness  
  • a growing income gap and the lack of decent pay or adequate income support to manage today’s staggering cost of living   
  • a lack of access to services that help people overcome structural barriers  

Together with partners, United Way helped develop a plan of action on key policy priorities that will meet immediate needs and improve social conditions. Now, we look forward to working with our provincial government, as well as local, regional and federal leaders, to fight local poverty with real solutions.   

Real solutions that begin in and with communities. That includes a well-resourced community services sector. And that includes you, from wherever you sit—a boardroom, a community agency, an office or your kitchen table. Each of us has a role to play, and it starts with caring about your neighbours—and doing something about it. Telling new and veteran local leaders what issues and priorities matter to you. And capturing all the conviction and passion you brought to the ballot to press for action that creates a GTA that is great for all. 

Always, and only, thank you for being with us and with community. 

Daniele Zanotti
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto

Things to Know Right Now

Photo of the I Count 2021 report cover and a look at the graphs inside. 

Homelessness in York Region

Last week, United Way Greater Toronto and the Regional Municipality of York released I Count 2021, the latest homelessness Point-in-Time count for York Region, examining who is experiencing homelessness and why. And the findings reveal that the intersection of the pandemic and other structural factors have had devastating impacts on residents grappling with new and pre-existing social and economic vulnerabilities. But the report doesn’t stop there: It also offers tangible recommendations to guide a collective response to homelessness and build on the major strides York Region’s homelessness sector made in enhancing coordination and problem-solving throughout the pandemic. I Count 2021 will guide United Way’s collaboration with partners through the York Region Homelessness Community Advisory Board—just one of many ways we support systems-level solutions to move the needle on homelessness.

Toronto Newcomer Day

United Way President & CEO Daniele Zanotti was proud to attend the 8th annual Toronto Newcomer Day on May 25. The event, as Daniele described to Fairchild TV, offers “an opportunity to recognize the impact of immigrants, newcomers, and refugees on the city. To provide information so that anybody coming to the city knows what services and supports are available. And to make sure we remain inclusive as a city going forward.” We’re proud to support 28 organizations and programs that deliver settlement, immigration and newcomer services 365 days a year, serving newcomers who have just arrived and need immediate supports, and those who’ve been here longer and continue to face barriers.

Local Love in Action

Photo of two Indigenous dancers dressed in regalia performing outside in front of an audience.
Courtesy of Na-Me-Res

June is both Indigenous History Month and Pride Month—and there are lots of opportunities to join with community to learn, celebrate and connect:

Get Involved

Graphic with headshots of the five panelists with the copy: 2022 Annual General Meeting, June 23 8 a.m.-10 a.m.

Join us at our 2022 Annual General Meeting

Join us at our virtual Annual General Meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2022, for inspiring discussions with community innovators and sector leaders, including Lisa Williams, Senior Vice-President of Strategy at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Angela Robertson, Executive Director of Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre; Mercedes Sharpe Zayas, Planning Coordinator at Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre, Clovis Grant, CEO of 360°kids, and Sharon Floyd, CEO of Embrave Agency to End Violence. We’ll dig into the practical, scalable work we can and must do together to ensure access to affordable and appropriate housing, local economic opportunities, and a resilient community service sector. Because for this place we love to be great—it must be great for all. We hope to see you there.

Update from the Frontlines

Photo of the hands of two people as they work out a math problem on paper.

The Toronto Star recently spoke to two Toronto teens who are navigating high school while experiencing homelessness . Amna, 17, and Deborah, 16, currently live at a shelter run by United Way-supported Youth Without Shelter (YWS) in Etobicoke. Both are part of the agency’s unique Stay in School program, which provides them with tutoring and a laptop, counselling, access to social assistance and more. Programs like these are a critical lifeline for young people experiencing homelessness—but they need to be part of a larger effort to prevent, reduce and end homelessness. United Way continues to champion this effort, including through research and advocacy for more affordable housing (think our Vertical Legacy report and I Count 2021); partnering and investing in unique housing projects like the Social Medicine Initiative; and funding agencies like YWS. We couldn’t do this work without the support of people like you. Thank you for joining with us to ensure that our community continues to be there for kids like Amna and Deborah. 

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