What’s ahead

What’s ahead

I recently was asked to address those in attendance at the County of Simcoe’s Warden’s Gala. In my speech, I shared the following figures: 

  • Hospital admissions and emergency room visits related to mental health had been increasing year over year since 2011 across the region.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 households in our community are experiencing food insecurity, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The numbers are even more jarring when we consider our children and youth – 1 in 6 of those under the age of 18 are experiencing food insecurity.
  • 44% of renters in our community are spending more than 30% of their before tax household income on housing costs meaning, invariably, their family is going without or is going further into debt to make ends meet.

These are just some examples of the inequities we see in our community today. It is important to understand that as communities across Simcoe and Muskoka experience a period of change and growth, without transformational systemic change, we could see these trends worsen. 

Creating solutions 

As a solutions-based charity, United Ways across Canada have committed to the following areas of focus:  

  1. Supporting people as they move from poverty to possibility
  2. Creating opportunities for kids to be all that they can be 
  3. Strengthening communities 

So, what does this mean? 

When we say that we support people as they transition from poverty to possibility, this means investing in initiatives that:

  • contribute to housing stability 
  • address food security 
  • advocate for employment security 

When we say that we will create opportunities for kids to be all that they can be, this means investing in initiatives that: 

  • encourage engagement in learning 
  • inspire connectedness and community involvement 
  • support the wellbeing of our youth 

When we say that we are committed to strengthening communities, this means investing in initiatives that:

  • promote safe spaces 
  • connect people to the supports they need 
  • increase levels of community engagement

What’s Next 

At the local level, United Way Simcoe Muskoka delivers on these priorities through program partnerships, improving access to resources, educational initiatives, and advocating for policy change.  

In the coming months we will be engaging stakeholders across the County of Simcoe, the District of Muskoka, and the Town of the Blue Mountains to provide further clarity as to what this looks like in our region. This work will inform our organization’s strategic plan as we look to effect long-term systemic change for the betterment of the communities we serve. 

We are committed to building a brighter future for everyone.  

I am excited to work with our partners on moving the needle on the priorities highlighted above, because we know that when we work together on important community issues, the results are game-changing.  

Bria n Shelley
Brian Shelley
Chief Executive & Philanthropy Officer
United Way Simcoe Muskoka

P.S.  If you would like to reach out to me directly with your thoughts on how you would like to see us deliver on these priorities in your area, I invite you to drop me an email at bshelley@uwsimcoemuskoka.ca 

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