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Health nonprofits face the greatest financial challenge in history

Health nonprofits face the greatest financial challenge in history

This blog post is the third of our #680millionreasons blog series. The series highlights stories of the vital role nonprofits play for community members.

From isolation support programs for cancer patients to the doubling of phone service sessions for children experiencing mental health challenges, many nonprofit services are needed now more than ever before. But Increased demand and need for organization services are not being met with increased funding. Close to three-quarters of nonprofits have seen decreased funding and one in five nonprofits have closed and may not reopen are struggling to keep their doors open. This is why nonprofits across Ontario, including the Health Charities Coalition, are joining the Ontario Nonprofit Network in calling for the provincial government to create a stabilization fund for the nonprofit sector.

As a result of COVID-19, the Canadian Cancer Society anticipates its revenue will be significantly impacted in the next year and beyond. Nationally, the society raises almost $200 million per year, and it expects to see a reduction of $80 million, or 40 per cent, this fiscal year.  This reduction has serious implications.

As Stuart Edmonds, Executive Vice President of Mission at the Canadian Cancer Society, shares, “Although much funding has stopped, unfortunately, cancer doesn’t stop being a life-changing and life-threatening disease during a global pandemic. Now more than ever, their online and phone support programs are critical to the people they serve, providing information, reducing anxiety and limiting feelings of isolation. But at a time when their services are needed most, they are also struggling with the greatest financial challenge in our 80-year history.”

The Canadian Cancer Society is not alone in its extreme financial challenges. Avril Goffredo, Executive Vice President, Ontario & Nunavut, for the Heart & Stroke says that “As a result of the cancellation, postponement, and moving of events to a virtual format, Heart & Stroke, has had an immediate revenue loss of $25 million. This has required them to cancel discretionary projects, cut expenses and make the difficult decision to temporarily lay off about 45 percent of their staff” in a time when the people they serve are more vulnerable than ever. 

To address the new realities and needs of people with stroke, heart conditions, and vascular cognitive impairment, Heart & Stroke has shifted its priorities and innovated to deliver essential supports during the pandemic. But a stabilization fund is still needed to continue groundbreaking research, train healthcare workers on critical resuscitation skills, and provide resources for people living with heart disease and stroke and their caregivers. 

Even nonprofits who have seen an uptake in donor support or some COVID-19 government funding need more help. In May, Kids Help Phone shared with Toronto.com that it provided more than double the service sessions compared to the same period last year. Though donors responded with historic levels of support, a crucial funding gap remains as the organization has had to cancel its largest annual fundraising event. 

Addictions and Mental Health Ontario, Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario and Children’s Mental Health Ontario have said the mental health and addiction sector in Ontario needs about $100 million. And yet Ontario is receiving just $12 million in increased mental health and addiction funding.

Ontarians across the province are relying on innovative services and ongoing supports from health nonprofits more than ever before. A $680 million sector stabilization fund will help ensure that all Ontarians can access the health services, resources, and research they need to stay healthy both during and after the pandemic.


Melanie Rodriguez

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