75 Years: United Way Ottawa's Story

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1980s / EMERGING ISSUES

For the first time since the 1930s, at the beginning of the decade the country plunges into a period marked by both recession and inflation. This combined recessionary/inflationary period triggers prolonged unemployment and an increasing reliance on social assistance. As well, the number of seniors, single-parent households and minority groups increases substantially.

Towards the end of the decade, Ottawa’s population increases from 546,850 to more than 670,000. A rapidly expanding population — a significant number of these are immigrants, including Vietnamese refugees who are sponsored through the city’s Project 4000 initiative — brings new challenges and issues.

During this decade, UW/CO and the Social Planning Council continue to work closely together, with their respective responsibilities split between funding and social planning/research. An example of this role division follows:

  • With its 1987 release of The Issue is Poverty: An Analysis of Emergency Food, Clothing and Shelter Services in Ottawa-Carleton, the Social Planning Council focuses attention on food and shelter, and then releases another report to highlight the inability of minority ethnic groups to access health and social services.
  • To meet the needs of Ottawa’s newly arrived immigrants, many from eastern Europe, UW/CO funds even more agencies that cater to minority groups, such as Entraide budgétaire, Centre de jour polyvalent des ainés francophones d’Ottawa-Carleton, Ottawa-Carleton Immigrant Services and Jewish Social Services Agency. Agencies serving seniors (The Good Companions, Ottawa Senior Citizens Council and Seniors Employment Bureau) and women (Rape Crisis Centre and Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre) also receive support.

UW/CO's bequest and endowment fund — initiated in 1978 — took a new twist in December 1986 with UW/CO establishing the Community Foundation of Ottawa-Carleton. The foundation’s purpose is to administer the endowment fund and distribute grants from the fund to organizations serving a broad spectrum of community needs, ranging from social services to the arts to health and education.

Additionally, Ottawa is the host city for the 1987 Canadian Conference on Shelter for the Homeless, and to begin to mobilize the community to deal with the city’s rising homelessness problem, the Social Planning Council organizes a fact-finding workshop on homelessness and releases a study on emergency services around this issue.

UW/CO's reach during the decade: • sees significant growth in bequest and endowment funds, which indicates that people are responsive to making gifts that will extend beyond their lifetime • provides $160,000 for new programs and 30 additional emergency and special grants

“Offering services from finding a home to help in job hunting, this UW/CO-funded organization has made life in a new homeland a lot less confusing for many immigrants and refugees.”


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