On the road to recovery

For many marginalized people living in the GTA, the struggle of daily life intensified when the pandemic struck in March 2020, making a difficult existence even more difficult. In the second year of the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 on some communities continues, ranging from skyrocketing mental health issues to food insecurity.

Daniele Zanotti, President and CEO of United Way Greater Toronto, explains why the need in the communities of York, Peel and Toronto is still great.

What did the COVID-19 crisis reveal about inequalities between communities in the GTA?

COVID amplified what was seeping under layers of disparity, layers of systemic and structural racism, the lack of sustainable policy and more. What we are seeing on the front lines is what crisis theory would call “the deepest need” – the first wave of people seeking support as soon as a large-scale crisis begins to arise for the rest. of us.

I’m increasingly concerned about our ability to make a difference on this emerging need, and what we know will be a long-tailed recovery – which won’t be fair – because poverty in the GTA is not fair. .

What made inequalities become a reality for so many people in the GTA?

Our research shows that poverty falls disproportionately on racialized people, LGBTQ2s, women, newcomers, and people with disabilities. COVID has just added more pressure to their situations.

Through studies of United Way social capital in Peel and York regions, it has been revealed that people living in poverty report having lower social capital, that is, they have less experience. neighbors, have less trust, do not know how to get involved in the community and are worried about crime and safety. Through the results of these studies, Centraide is using these details as a framework for engaging with community members and agencies.

With the widespread adoption of vaccines, are things improving for residents of the GTA?

Our social capital reports show that there is work to be done. Another United Way report – The Opportunity Equation – highlighted the fact that poverty limits the social mobility of racialized women and immigrant women. This report found that these groups were stuck at levels comparable to the 1980s instead of the 2020s, and that income inequality further disadvantages those who already face multiple barriers to building a good life. and increasingly benefits those who are already doing well.

What steps must be taken to achieve a fair recovery?

There will be no recovery if women and their partners cannot return to work and have affordable child care. We need a united approach to housing supports for communities. We need to talk about paid sick leave for all, it must be a priority.

We have a moment to think differently about what a fair recovery looks like. Does it continue to be supports and services for all? Or should we, as we did at United Way, use our research and relationships on the ground to deliver more deliberately and strategically to the populations and postal codes most affected?

What we have learned are local issues, community issues, a network of agencies that matter. There will never be a program or agency – it is a network of agencies across the GTA that surrounds itself with the people, communities and issues that need to be addressed.

How does Centraide finance the agencies to support their various efforts?

Last summer, we launched a series of organizational grants for Black-led, Indigenous, and equity-deserving groups to apply for long-term funding to the United Way. We’re also committed to ensuring that at least 90% of the funds we raise are unrestricted. In other words, the donor offers funds to the community to do with it what it does best. Unrestricted giving is the fairest gift one can give, as it empowers research and agencies in the field.

In terms of being an equitable fundraiser and funder, we’ve already been at the forefront with a commitment that at least 25 percent of our funded agencies will be led by, focused on and serving groups deserving of equity. We’ve broken it down even more so we can talk about what this means in Black and Indigenous communities.

When COVID hit, we were one of the first funders to offer flexible funding to our agencies. We provide three-year program grants to our agencies, and we are one of the few that also provide five-year anchor funding to enable general operational support to build capacity.

For example, if you run a senior outreach program, United Way will purchase that program from you, provide multi-year funding, and provide program support for up to 20% of that organization’s administrative costs. How else would this agency pay for the infrastructure, space, lighting, personal protective equipment that is so critical now? United Way provides general operational support, allowing agencies to invest in the highest priorities.

END LABEL / DISCLAIMER: The Toronto Star is involved in a promotional partnership with the United Way to support its annual fundraising campaign. The organization was not involved in reviewing or approving this content prior to its publication. However, the content may not meet the standards for impartial or independent journalism.


HED: In numbers

Over the past year, United Way Greater Toronto has supported:

575 branches

1,400 programs and initiatives

2.2 million people

Source: UWGT Annual Report

Peel Share Capital Report

York Region Capital Report

Equation of opportunity

Please donate today at unitedwaygt.org/donate

Disclaimer This content was produced in partnership and therefore may not meet the standards of impartial or independent journalism.

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