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Addressing the root causes of poverty to lift our communities up

October 17, 2023

When it comes to tackling poverty across the globe, there is still a lot of work to be done. According to statistics from the United Nations, given current trends, 575 million people will still be living in extreme poverty in 2030 – and only about one third of countries will meet the target to halve national poverty  levels. In Canada specifically, millions of people rely on community service organizations to fill the gaps left by inadequate incomes to access food, shelter, mental health supports, and other basic needs. In the first six months of this year alone, the 211 helpline received over 43,000 housing related requests, which is a 22% increase from the previous 6-month period.

A report from the University of Toronto shows that 1 in 5 children under the age of 18 in the ten provinces lives in a household that experienced some level of food insecurity. In addition, households with children led by female lone parents are especially vulnerable to food insecurity—38% of these households were food insecure. In 2021, up to 163 million people were estimated to have been pushed into poverty worldwide after the onset of the pandemic. Although Canada was not spared, a number of federal government funding programs helped millions stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, Canada experienced record declines in child poverty, which demonstrates the need for ongoing federal government funding to maintain and build on these gains in poverty reduction.

Our network is committed to working towards ensuring an equitable future for all communities across Canada. From coast to coast to coast, United Way Centraides are often the primary resource for the rising number of people falling below the poverty line in our communities. As local experts, we play many roles in community: as collaborators working alongside agency partners and community organizations, as enablers by funding programs and services, as advocates by shining light on tough social issues like poverty while pushing for sustainable solutions, and more.

To tackle poverty, United Way Halifax has helped fund housing support organizations like Welcome HousingPublic Good, and The North Grove, the latter having helped people like Sam, a single mother with two daughters who have been ‘renovicted’ three times and unhoused for quite some time. In the Prairies, United Way Saskatoon & Area are seeing success in helping people experiencing homelessness through the Journey Home program launched in partnership with Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service. Across the country, United Way Centraides are continuously working to fund or partner with organizations that help reduce poverty and assist communities with basic needs.

As we observe the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we at United Way Centraide Canada recognize the importance of tackling poverty at both the community and national levels. We commend our local United Way Centraides and their network of community organizations who work together to address the root causes of poverty across Canada. And we remain committed to advocating nationally for additional income support programs and other benefits from the federal government in order to move towards an equitable future for all.

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