In an Open Letter to Premier Doug Ford, United Ways across Ontario call for action on toughest issues facing Ontarians

United Way leaders identify Housing Security, Income Security and Inclusive Employment, Inclusive Communities and Support for the Social Services Sector as social issues of focus.

(July 6, 2022) – United Way leaders from across Ontario addressed an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet yesterday morning calling for close collaboration to alleviate a multitude of social issues plaguing the province. From Sault Ste. Marie and Ottawa to Hamilton and Windsor, the leaders recommended four issue areas to focus on together — Housing Security, Income Security and Inclusive Employment, Inclusive Communities and Support for the Social Services Sector — to address the unignorable hurdles to a strong and vibrant Ontario, especially through the current crisis of affordability.

Through shutdowns and since, Ontario’s United Ways have been working with elected leaders, integrating networks of agencies and cross-sector partnerships to identify priorities, escalate concerns and share resources to support those most disproportionately impacted by poverty — Indigenous, Black or racialized peoples, people with disabilities, those living in low-income neighbourhoods, 2SLGBTQ+ people, women, newcomers, seniors, and people experiencing homelessness.

Frontline partners at agencies funded by United Ways across the province are reporting record-high numbers of community members needing supports, and an increasing complexity of issues facing both urban and rural communities. In addition to meeting basic needs, public policy changes are necessary to address unaffordable housing, low-wage jobs, precarious employment, and mental health challenges to counteract the deepening poverty across the province. The leaders also warn that growing anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, and anti-Asian hate and Islamophobia further widens the poverty gaps and calls for concerted effort to build more inclusive communities.

United Ways across Ontario acknowledged positive steps made by the government through specific public policy like the Homelessness Prevention Program and the $13.2 billion dollar child-care agreement with the federal government but encourage Premier Ford and Ministers to do more. The letter recommends specific action such as expanding affordable housing options, establishing a living wage, hiring more addictions and mental health workers, improving access to services and initiatives focused on underserved, equity-deserving communities, and to work with the community services sector in a united way.

Read the full open letter here.


“We know that deepening poverty across the province is connected to a multitude of social issues: a lack of affordable housing, food insecurity, mental health and addictions, lack of meaningful employment and inadequate income. Ontario United Ways are committed to working with Premier Ford’s government to make sure that the people of this province – particularly those disproportionately impacted by poverty, equity-deserving groups and Indigenous communities – are prioritized so they can have a better future for themselves and their families.”

  • Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way Greater Toronto

“Addressing complex social challenges requires complex strategies and collective action. We look forward to working with the Premier and the Government of Ontario to prioritize the policy solutions proposed by United Ways in Ontario and speak further about how we can collaborate on the implementation of strategies that will ensure Ontario’s full economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

  • Kelly Ziegner, President & CEO, United Way Elgin Middlesex

“This global pandemic has allowed us to see what our community needs are through a different lens and has opened up our eyes to realities that were once hidden.  Together we can make a difference. Additional and ongoing support for our communities is crucial to maintain the health and wellbeing of our citizens.”

  • Lori Huston, Executive Director of United Way Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma District

“Crises over the last couple of years continue to compound issues like affordable housing, economic equity, learning loss for youth, as well as support for informal caregivers and those in our rural communities. United Way East Ontario recognizes that philanthropy, and the work of the community sector on its own, is insufficient to achieve the social justice goals to which we aspire. We will continue to align our efforts with progressive public policy to address systemic inequalities in our communities.”

– Michael Allen, President and CEO, United Way East Ontario