- Financial issues impact other areas of a person’s life and are always related to other challenges.
- Financially empowering people reduces stress and helps break the cycles of poverty and debt.
- United Way East Ontario works with partners like EBO Financial Education Centre to ensure more people in our communities achieve financial independence and stability.
Filing taxes on time can feel overwhelming on its own, but imagine the stress of not having coverage for emergency dental work and needing taxes to be done to get help? Or trying to figure out complicated forms as a newcomer to Canada while working two jobs to make ends meet?
EBO Financial Education Centre (EBO) is available to help people struggling with these kinds of situations. Co-founded with United Way East Ontario, EBO has staff to assist people who face systemic barriers to accessing financial services. Clients can book an appointment at no charge to get help with anything from simple questions about tax forms, to managing more complex financial situations.
Marc d’Orgeville, Executive Director at EBO says the organization mostly gets requests from people who live on a low income, and this often includes seniors, single parents and new immigrants.
When budget counselling is offered, Marc says “We see a big drop in a person’s financial stress, just getting the information or being able to lay out what their issues are and talking about it.”
People who qualify can get help with income tax services, fighting late income tax submissions and getting the benefits they are entitled to.
Financial problems and complexities are growing
“People feel hopeless in front of inflation,” Marc says, “and that’s where our role is very important. Something can be done. There’s always a solution, and we can help with that.”
Financial issues impact other areas of a person’s life. Knowing what paperwork to fill out, can help people get the care they need.
Anne Tétreault, Budgeting Counsellor at the Centre shared an example of a client who required urgent dental care, but needed to file her taxes to get coverage. Anne helped to locate a different program, the Dental Emergency Financial Assistance program, and her client was provided the dental coverage needed immediately.
“We were able, through that session, get her the help she needed and address the actual stressor that she was experiencing” says Anne. “We also helped with what she had come in for originally, which was to do her taxes.”
Another client Anne helped felt very stressed about an electricity bill that he couldn’t keep up with. In showing him how to complete an OESP application, he was able to get a credit to cover that cost.
While chatting, Anne found out the client was new to Canada, and that he and his wife, who had five children, were both students with no steady income. Anne offered a follow up consultation. Not only to help organize expenses, but to see if there were resources available for his family that they hadn’t explored.
Tackling financial crises and the root causes of poverty
As our communities recover from the effects of the pandemic, United Way ensures people can find financial stability in the face of rising costs of living and employment uncertainty. At the same time, we work with our partners across sectors to address the root causes of poverty so fewer people fall through the cracks.
This looks like:
- Working with employers to build inclusive and culturally safe workplaces and equip them with the tools and resources they need to do so. Networks like Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO), and the Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN) can spearhead this work. When employers recruit and retain diverse talent, like people with disabilities and newcomers to Canada, those employees can maintain financial independence and break the cycle of poverty.
- Advocating for social purchasing and community benefit policies so residents can reap the rewards of development and infrastructure projects in their neighbourhoods.
- Supporting the community and all levels of government to increase access to basic needs like food, PPE, utilities relief, technology, and tax and financial literacy programs. Without their basic needs met, many people cannot even consider entering the labour market.
Your contributions help experts like Anne and Marc provide services to individuals struggling with debt and poverty. Guidance and skills help people to reclaim control of their financial situations, get through the crisis phase, and find stability for the future.
Help individuals get help when in a financial crisis.
This story first appeared on United Way East Ontario’s website. As your connection to the work of United Way in our region, GenNext East Ontario is committed to bringing you stories like this to demonstrate the impact your support makes.