We want to know where candidates stand on affordable housing, good jobs and strong neighbourhoods
So often, donors and volunteers ask me what they can do to make this region a better place. These days, I tell them to vote. With municipal elections taking place Oct. 24, United Way has been encouraging residents to ask candidates about three key issues to ensure that we recover — from the pandemic, from the high cost of living, from the housing crisis, and from a looming recession — on the right path. We wrote about this call to action for Metroland papers last month — and I want to share part of it with you again today. Before you mark the ballot, we hope you consider checking where candidates are at on this urgent to-do list to take action on poverty:
Affordable housing: Everyone deserves a safe place to call home, but the cost of housing today outstrips most budgets. This leaves people who live on low incomes with few options and at risk of facing homelessness. The conversation — and action — must be focused where need is greatest. Urgently needed affordable rentals include:
- new social and rent-geared-to-income housing
- municipal and non-profit partnerships
- repair and renewal of aging apartment towers
- investment in supportive housing that moves people from streets to homes
- advocacy for rent and vacancy controls and protection against eviction
Good jobs: Amid skyrocketing inflation, a good job with decent pay and benefits has never been more important. Municipal government must continue to partner on initiatives to get people working, offer career opportunities and contribute to a strong local economy. We need:
- Community Benefits Agreements that ensure major infrastructure projects bring local jobs, training and apprenticeships, and support local businesses
- a livable minimum wage and social assistance rates, paid sick days and urgent delivery of long-promised affordable childcare
Strong neighbourhoods: Access to essential supports and programs are unequal, especially for those who continue to face systemic barriers such as: Indigenous, Black and racialized people, people with disabilities, 2SLGBTQ+ people, women and newcomers. Strong neighbourhoods include:
- stable funding for community agencies to support people with food and shelter, mental health services, harm reduction, gender-based violence and other complex needs
- digital access and recreation and community engagement opportunities
- stronger collaboration between government, social services and the corporate sector
United Way is committed to fighting poverty, meeting immediate needs and working toward a future where everyone can thrive. And as I have often said, this is going to take all of us social servicing and fundraising and civic muscling our way out of the GTA’s complex issues — in a united way. Vital partners in this work have always included government — key to policy change that can be truly transformative.
On Oct. 24, let’s pick those partners carefully.
Always, and only, thank you.
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto
Pre-election virtual panel
Join CBC Metro Morning host Ismaila Alfa this Tuesday, Oct. 18, for a virtual panel discussion with civic leaders on building a city where all residents can thrive. Panellists include our own Daniele Zanotti, along with Lindsay (Swooping Hawk) Kretschmer, Executive Director, Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council, Kofi Hope, co-founder of Monumental, and Dr. Pamela Sugiman, Dean of Arts, Toronto Metropolitan University. Together they’ll talk about the issues the election should be addressing — and isn’t — and what our next municipal leaders need to do to ensure no one is left behind. Register today to secure your spot.
You can help us build a better community in just 300 minutes! Get #UP4Community from Nov. 1-10 to help us raise urgently needed funds. With each stride, stretch, jump, skip, dance step or pedal, you’ll be supporting your friends and neighbours who are experiencing poverty, homelessness, hunger and other related issues. They especially need your support right now — the rising cost of living and the lingering effects of the pandemic are pushing many into crisis.
Show your #LocalLove and get your heart pumping!
Community Conversations – Finding Home
Join us on Oct. 19 for the next event in our Community Conversations series, Finding Home. This hands-on activity challenges you to step into the shoes of someone who is living on a low income and juggling priorities on a tight budget. Gain insight into how housing forces many of our neighbours to make tough choices every day — and join a brave space to discuss your experience. Reserve your spot today.
Things to Know Right Now
Housing and Homelessness
Finding affordable and stable housing continues to be a challenge for many, and especially for people who face economic vulnerabilities, including seniors, who are often living on fixed or low incomes. United Way-funded agency WoodGreen Community Services was recently announced as the non-profit provider of services in East York for a new, modular, supportive housing building for seniors exiting homelessness. In addition to providing a home, the building will be staffed with experienced case managers, social workers and other specialists to help people transition into permanent, stable housing. WoodGreen will also provide mental health support, a key part of keeping people experiencing homelessness off the streets. The modular housing is part of the City of Toronto’s plan to increase the supply of affordable housing and to help people transition out of homelessness, with community support.
Youth Mental Health
It is a priority for us at United Way to ensure that mental health supports for individuals, families and communities across the GTA are available, especially with mental illness being the leading cause of disability in Canada. Last month, the What’s Up clinic launched at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, partnering with United Way-funded agency Yorktown Family Services to provide confidential, free and solutions-focused mental health support for young people (up to age 29) and their parents and caregivers.
Local Love in Action
Bhangra dancing atop the CN Tower
We were honoured to have Gurdeep Pandher and the CN Tower partner up to bring Pandher’s famous Bhangra dancing to new heights, all to raise funds for United Way Greater Toronto while spreading his message of joy and positivity. The Yukon-based performer led a group of enthusiastic attendees in a cheerful tutorial. “At this time of great need and a greater reliance on United Way, this event supporting our community and bringing positivity will make a real difference,” said United Way CEO and President Daniele Zanotti. If you feel inspired by Pandher, be sure to sign up for GetUP, where you can Bhangra, belly dance or box, all to raise funds for community.
Islamic Heritage Month
October is Islamic Heritage Month, a chance to celebrate and learn about the rich Muslim heritage and contributions to society in sciences, humanities, medicine, astronomy and other disciplines that have greatly benefited human progress. This year’s theme is contributions to the culinary arts. Learn more and show your support: