Join the Make it Livable initiative

The #LoveLove Letter, United Way Elgin Middlesex

local news with impact

Kelly Ziegner, President & CEO United Way Elgin Middlesex

We value your support of United Way’s mission to improve lives and build community, so I’ll get straight to the point: We need to Make it Livable.

Make it Livable is a United Way-led push to persuade the Ontario government to increase social assistance rates so that all recipients have a dignified, livable income.

Participants at a town hall talk at Wolf Performance Hall in early January heard real stories of how people struggle to meet their basic needs, while receiving payments that, if you factor in inflation, are hundreds of dollars lower than they were 25 years ago.

These are families with kids, people with disabilities and individuals in crisis – people whose incomes in many instances sit at less than half the poverty line.

It’s just not livable. It makes no economic or ethical sense.

In just the past two weeks, hundreds of people have endorsed our recommendation that the province:

  • Double Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates to bring people’s income above the official poverty line.
  • Index both ODSP and OW rates to inflation.

We ask you to advocate with us by supporting the recommendation, before Feb. 20, so that we can send a strong message to the provincial government that raising social assistance rates now needs to be a spending priority for 2024-2025.

Yes, it’s a bold request.

But the cost of doing nothing has been far too high for far too long.

As an organization – and as a community that cares deeply about neighbours-in-need – we work to reduce and prevent poverty every day. And we can do that most effectively when we also tackle poverty’s root causes.

I‘ll leave you with the words of Elizabeth McIsaac, president of the Maytree Foundation and keynote speaker at the town hall event: “Social assistance is an opportunity to invest in individuals, families and community … We can re-envision social assistance so it puts the person first, not the system.”

So let’s encourage the province to make that investment today, before the human cost escalates even more.

Be #United with us and for this community.

Join us now and Make it Livable.



Kelly Ziegner
President & CEO, United Way Elgin Middlesex

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Make it Livable in the news — Couldn’t make it out to the town hall event? Hear and read one person’s story of how social assistance rates are keeping people in poverty, and how it’s having an impact on all of us.

211 is here for you — If you need help for you or a loved one, call 211 to speak to a Navigator who can connect you to information, programs and services close to home. Free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in over 150 languages by phone, live chat and email.

Share the Love 50/50 Lottery for United Way — You’ll get one extra day to play Share the Love, in a leap-year edition of our 50/50 draw that will delight two winners. One ticket-holder who plays by 8:59 a.m. on Feb. 14 will win an early-bird gift pack valued at $500 that includes premium London Knights tickets and Downtown Dollars. And one ticket-holder will win half the total proceeds when the lottery closes at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 29. Play today!