Addressing complex social challenges requires complex strategies. Public policy work, including advocacy and government relations, is part of what United Way does every day.
Public policy work is sewn into the fabric of United Way’s day-to-day, from relationship building, storytelling and convening unlikely partners around an important issue, to finding windows of opportunity, especially during a pandemic.
“COVID-19 has cut through the noise and brought key labour values to the forefront,” says Dani Bartlett, Labour Coordinator, United Way Elgin Middlesex. “Grassroots issues like paid sick days, living wage, safe working conditions and affordable housing are top of mind now.”
As a strong, non-partisan advocate, United Way works to keep important issues like these front-and-centre with leaders at all three levels of government.
Locally, United Way joined the Middlesex London Health Unit and others to publicly support the 466 York St. location for a Supervised Consumption Facility and spoke publicly about the proposed program, harm reduction and the impact of opioid use in this community, an issue heightened by COVID-19. In November 2020, the site was approved.
Provincially, United Way joined more than 100 other social services and signed on to Ontario for All, an advocacy platform calling on the province to address systemic inequality, income security, childcare and mental health support and more—and to start planning now for a just and inclusive recovery.
Recent data shows that non-profits across Canada are experiencing a 37% drop in donations due to the effects of COVID-19. Many of the long-standing services vulnerable Canadians depend on have closed permanently, and many more are at risk.