Building pathways out of poverty isn’t an easy task, according to United Way Canada CEO Jacline Nyman, but it can be done.
“Housing supports, early childhood education, food security, access to employment and living wage. These are things that can vastly improve the quality of life for most of our population,” Nyman said in her keynote speech.
She was in Saskatoon Thursday speaking to community stakeholders about key issues facing Canadians and local residents.
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The 2016 Impact Report released by the United Way shows how $5.2 million of 2015 donations were invested in Saskatoon, focusing on food, employment and financial security, as well as housing stability.
“The bottom line is we should be investing in creating opportunities, as oppose to down stream implications of poverty when it’s more of an emergency situation,” said Nyman.
According to the United Way, poverty costs Canadian tax payers more than $25 billion annually, and homelessness alone accounts for $7 billion per year.
“Last year when we did a point-in-time homeless count, we counted 450 people with no permanent homes and 45 out of the 450 people are children,” said Judy Shum, United Way Saskatoon community impact director.
“For a city like Saskatoon and a rich country like Canada, we have no excuse to let those situations continue.”
Locally, the United Way invested over $1.5 million in housing, food and employment initiatives. Over $800,000 of that went directly to housing stability.
The United Way is also investing in the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre.
READ MORE: Saskatoon Food Bank could see major cuts, leaving thousands hungry
A third of the costs for the Food Bank’s Milk for Children program will be covered, which is an essential program during summer months when food requests for children are highest because school food programs are inaccessible.
“Last month alone we saw 21,000 people come through our doors,” said Laurie O’Connor, Saskatoon Food Bank executive director, “about 45 per cent of requests for food come on behalf of children.”
While the food bank investments help with current needs, the United Way is hoping to put money into supports that lift people out of poverty altogether.
SEE BELOW: 2016 IMPACT REPORT HIGHLIGHTS