A tale of two cities - Metro US

A tale of two cities

While economic indicators are reporting that Ottawa is faring well in comparison with other Canadian cities, a United Way Ottawa report released yesterday has found that the demand for social services has increased.

The report, entitled From Obstacles to Innovation: The Impact of the Economic Downturn on Ottawa’s Social Service Sector, found that the demand for services has increased by 84 per cent, said Karen Diguer, senior director of planning and evaluation for United Way Ottawa.

Over the past nine months, agencies have seen a sharp increase in demand for their services and programs in all demographic groups, including children and youth, new Canadians and immigrants, people with mental-health issues, and women — by more than 40 per cent each.

“You would think Ottawa was not affected because of the government base. We do enjoy a high level of income security,” said Diguer. “But you almost have two cities — one that enjoys economic security and one that doesn’t.”

Funders are also seeing demand for funding dollars, said Diguer.

“We’re seeing the perfect storm — increased demand and decreased funding available to meet the demand,” she said. “But agencies aren’t giving up, they’re trying to use innovative ways of coping with this. They’re increasing their collaboration and partnership with like-minded agencies to increase their capacity for service.”

Diguer hopes the report will deepen residents’ understanding that “Ottawa is not a recession-proof city.”

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