Opinion – Jim Russell: What will the political parties do to end poverty?

There isn’t a single community in Canada immune to poverty and ours is no different. Unfortunately, according to 2016 census data, 14,645 Peterborough residents, have incomes below the low-income measure. In other words, almost 1 in 5 of our neighbours live in poverty. With election day approaching on Monday, we at United Way of Peterborough and District are waiting and watching for all parties to share their anti-poverty plans with voters.

In June 2019, federal poverty reduction legislation was passed. This means the next federal government — and all those that follow — are required by law to make progress against poverty.

Poverty is an uncomfortable reality most of us have come to accept as a part of our society. But our neighbours who have lived with poverty know that it is ever present in their lives — the choice between rent and food on the table, the fear of unforeseen expenses you can’t meet, the inability to give your children the same experience others enjoy.

When we talk about poverty, we are really talking about the ‘opportunity gap’ — we all have potential; we don’t all have the same opportunity to fulfil it. Tackling poverty is about building hope — a belief in the potential of all Canadians.

Poverty is a driver of the opportunity gap in this country. It can be uncomfortable to talk about. It can seem too complicated to address. But poverty has no place in a resource-rich, compassionate country like Canada. Our failure to eliminate poverty is socially and economically unacceptable.

We know Canadians value taking care of each other when we struggle — we give our time, energy and money because we are compassionate. In Peterborough, individuals, families, businesses and labour councils show their love for this community by supporting our efforts to make social issues like poverty #UNIGNORABLE.

Last year alone, we engaged thousands of donors and volunteers to raise $1.75 million dollars to support community services for people struggling to pay the rent, feed their kids and find work. Our investments work and we are proud to support 46 partners, neighbourhood initiatives, and programs that build community.

To address poverty, modern government policy must be proactive. For our local candidates seeking federal office in October, it’s time to make the eradication of poverty in Canada a policy priority. Doing so will focus our collective efforts on removing the barriers that keep so many from participating in our economy and experiencing the quality of life that is possible here.

The good news for Canada is that we now have the lowest poverty rate in our history, and a federal poverty reduction strategy with targets and timelines, including reducing poverty by 50 per cent by 2030. But are we aiming high enough with a target that is the minimum of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal on poverty? A 50 per cent reduction will still leave more than two million Canadians in poverty, an appalling situation that will continue to drain billions of dollars from public coffers. Canada can surely be more ambitious and set its sights on eradication.

We know that the billions spent today treating the effects of poverty would be better spent removing barriers and creating opportunities to lift people out of poverty and preventing it tomorrow. Vital investments in affordable housing and child care, accessible health and community services, better training to align with labour market needs, and strong, modern income security programs can make poverty a distant memory.

When we remove barriers, we ensure every person in this community and communities across Canada can reach their full potential.

Jim Russell is the CEO of the United Way of Peterborough and District.

Printed in the Peterborough Examiner


Coat Collection – Last Chance!

More winter coats are needed

While the response for the 1 day coat collection was amazing, more winter coats, jackets and snowsuits are needed for the annual Coats for Kids and Adults too! distribution.

“We are asking the community to look through their closets one more time and bring freshly washed outer winter wear to the farmers market location in Peterborough Square during the hours of 5 to 7 pm on Friday, October 25 when many volunteers will be setting up for the coat distribution the following day,” said Stephanie Levesque of United Way Peterborough.

“It is a short window of opportunity to drop off the coats, but after assessing the inventory from last Saturday’s collection, we know we need more winter coats and snowsuits to meet the needs in the community,” she said.

With Thanksgiving weekend upon us, talk to your family members and encourage them to check their closets too!

“We have received a number of calls this week from people who missed last Saturday’s collection and have offered this drop off opportunity,” said Levesque.

United Way Peterborough staff and volunteers will be on hand Friday, October 25 in the farmers market location in Peterborough Square from 5 to 7 pm. The distribution of the coats will take place on Saturday, October 26 from 8 am to 3 pm and distributed on a first come, first served basis.

For more information, contact Stephanie Levesque at 705-742-8839 X32.


EXTRA’s Armchair Quarterback

It is truly time for people to put their money where their mouth is!

“EXTRA’s Armchair Quarterback for the United Way” is a chance for YOU to bid on

an appearance on EXTRA 90.5 to chat sports.

Should Mitch Marner get $11 million? Who should win AL Rookie of the Year?

Are the Lakers going to win three straight Mann Cups?

Gretzky or Orr?

You choose the topic and battle it out with our experts.

Each week there will be a widely promoted auction with a minimum bid of $50.

At the end of the week, whoever has bid the most money will win an hour of talk time during

‘Mercier N Crew’, which airs weekdays between 3 and 6 p.m.

Click here to fill out the form to place your bid.

Coats For Kids – Collection!

United Way Peterborough is once again partnering with The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Peterborough’s thrift store, Vinnies, for the one-day fall collection of Coats For Kids on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

“We are asking for freshly washed or new winter Coats For Kids and Adults too!”, said Stephanie Levesque, United Way Peterborough’s Labour Program & Services Development Officer, today, “And we are pleased that Vinnies is once again assisting this valuable community program.”

On October 5, volunteers will be on hand at a truck in the parking lot of the flagship Vinnies, at 799 Erskine Ave. from 9 am to 5 pm accepting the donations of clean and or new coats.

“Once again we are very happy to help out with this program that benefits the community,” said Angela Oran, Senior Manager of Vinnies. After collection the ServiceMaster Restore Peewee AE Pete’s will be on hand to sort through the donations.

This program provides much needed relief to local families as one in four children in Peterborough lives in poverty. Families continue to deal with sharply rising costs of living and simply don’t have the means to purchase clothing to stay warm during the harsh winter months.

“Every year we distributed over 1,000 coats and the need never lets up,” said Levesque.

Coats for Kids is possible due to the generous support of Peterborough residents, community organizations, and program partners.

The coats will be distributed on Saturday, October 26 from 8 am to 3 pm at Peterborough Square. United Way Peterborough also partners with Peterborough Social Services in the distribution of coats in communities in Peterborough County through the Meet Your Needs days.

For more information, contact Stephanie Levesque at 705-742-8839 X32 or by email at slevesque@uwpeterborough.ca


Care. Hope. Vote!

Care. Hope. Vote! Peterborough, was launched September 10, 2019 by 19 community groups as an innovative on-line and in-person initiative to highlight social issues in Peterborough City and County during the 2019 Federal election.

The goals of the initiative are to increase awareness of social issues and their local importance; to support a positive reason to vote; and to provide practical information and support related to the voting process.

Click here for more information!

Kicking off the 7th Annual Paint the Town Red event!

Today near the Hunter Street alley, Jim Russell CEO of United Way of Peterborough & District was joined by Campaign Chair, David Goyette, along with a variety of participating restaurants to announce the launch of the 7th annual Paint the Town Red event. Last year’s event raised over $16,000 bringing the total to over $75,000 since 2013.

On Wednesday July 17th, a record-breaking 34 participating restaurants will be donating 25% of their daily sales to support United Way Community Campaign.

Says Goyette, “I am thrilled be part of Paint the Town Red this year and even more excited to see restaurants in the County of Peterborough participating for the first time including: Jack’s Restaurant in Lakefield and Rallis Burger Family Restaurant in Bridgenorth.”

 United Way Development Officer and Event Coordinator, Erica Richmond says “This is truly my favourite event of the year. I believe that food has the power to bring people together and this is consistently demonstrated during this event as community members support local businesses who are supporting our community. It’s a full circle of support bound together by food, conversation and local love.”

Let’s show our local restaurants how much we appreciate their generosity – visit them on July 17th and while you’re there, share your experience on social media, using the hashtag #PaintPtboRed.

For a full list of participating restaurants, see below or please visit: http://www.uwpeterborough.ca/event/paint-the-town-red-2/


2019 Paint the Town Red Participating Restaurants


Ashburnham Ale House

BE Catering

Black Honey

The Boardwalk Board Game Lounge

Chick-a-biddy Acres (Wednesday Market)

Cora Peterborough

Cork & Bean

Dodrio Bubble Tea, Anime Cafe & Game Lounge

The Edison

Fresh Dreams



Hunter Street Tavern

Island Cream

Jack’s Restaurant – Lakefield & Peterborough Locations

Kettle Drums

La Hacienda

La Mesita Restaurante

Night Kitchen

The Olde Stone Brewing Company

The Only Café

Pita Pit – George Street


Rallis Burger Family Restaurant

Real Thai Cuisine

Riley’s Pub

Sam’s Place

Silver Bean Cafe

St Veronus

Sunset Grill

Tiny Greens: Vegan Plant Cafe

Turnball Cafe


Announcing: #LocalLove Showcase of UWP Neighbourhood Fund!

Media Release:

Last night, at their Annual General Meeting, United Way Peterborough & District (UWP) provided a showcase of Local Love as they profiled several of their Neighbourhood Funded programs and initiatives from 2018 and announced the 2019 recipients.

The Neighbourhood Fund provides small, one-time grants to support groups of individuals that are working together to improve their neighbourhood, defined as a physical place or a connection of people, within the City and County of Peterborough.

United Way Neighbourhood Funding is used to enhance resident engagement and leadership while offering valuable opportunities for residents to get to know their neighbours and engage in their community.

In its second year, the Neighbourhood Fund initiative distributed $20,000 in grants ranging from $500-$5,000.

Jim Russell, UWP CEO acknowledged the generosity of an anonymous community member whose donation funded the 2019 projects, “We are so lucky to have a donor come forward and support the idea of small micro grants to neighbourhood initiatives. We know that a little money can leverage a lot of goodwill and capacity.”


2018 Neighbourhood Fund Projects

Sacred Fire
Neighbours Fighting Poverty
McDonnel Street Neighbours
Wild Eats
The River Magazine
Men Supporting Men
Youth Advisory Committee (PYS)
Warming Room
Summer Street Festival
Creating Space
Carol’s Place

2018 Labour Project

Peterborough Precarious Employment Research Initiative (PERI)

2019 Neighbourhood Fund Projects

Communication Displays at Riverview Park and Zoo
Neighbourhood Discovery Mural
Garden Stewardship Program
INSPIRE: Women’s Portrait Project
Peterborough Folk Festival
The River Magazine
One Roof Community Centre Finances and ID Hub

2019 Labour Project

Peterborough Precarious Employment Research Initiative (PERI)

Click here for more information about our Neighbourhood Fund, including a brief description of all recipients, please click here

Videos of each project who were at our AGM can be found on our YouTube Channel. Click here for full playlist.


May We Introduce…. our 2019 Campaign Cabinet Team!

This morning on the front lawn of the United Way of Peterborough and District office, David Goyette, 2019 Campaign Chair enthusiastically announced the 2019 Campaign Cabinet Team.

“I am proud to introduce this immensely committed team, and I thank them all for their time, energy and commitment,” stated Goyette.

The Cabinet Team holds an incredible responsibility. They are a hands-on team who are carefully selected based on their specific skills and dedication to making our community stronger. Members of the team will assist with key decision making around Campaign strategies, making phone calls to donors, visiting workplaces and organizing events.

And speaking of events – we have a long list of knock your socks off events coming up! Some of them are old favourites such as our Golf Tournament, Paint the Town Red and the United Way Petes game (with a twist). New events include: a 4-hour fundraising concert at Showplace featuring the best of Peterborough’s musical talent; a fashion show showcasing elegant women’s styles and costuming from the 1950s and 1960s; a major sledge hockey tournament involving local and provincial athletes; a promotional sports radio fundraiser featuring aspiring sports commentators; a community guitar jam and more!!

Details about these events and sponsorship opportunities will be available in the very near future.

Joining Goyette, was an ebullient Jim Russell CEO of the United Way. “We are pretty pumped by this line-up of community stars. We knew coming into this years Campaign that we would need to have a stellar team, in particular because of the upcoming federal election,” noted Russell reflecting on the particular challenge for 2019 of competing for the hearts and minds of the public.


Our 2019 Campaign Cabinet Team!!

David Goyette Campaign Chair, government relations and communications
Jeff Leal Donor engagement
Heather Stelzer Donor engagement
Marcus Harvey Labour Sector
Dave Haacke Real Estate and Developer Sectors
Ron Kronstein Corporations Sector
Darcy Bonner Leadership and Commercial Sectors
Tammy Williams Legal Sector
Heather Watson Communications
Brittany Cadence Communications
Paul Rellinger Communications and Events
Donna Clarke Communications and Events
Victoria Pearce Communications and Events
Lisa Marinzel Partner Agency Sector
Correen Day Partner Agency Sector
Larry Gillman Event Sponsorship