Ottawa's Senior Citizens Council closes after 57 years because of funding shortfall
Published Tuesday, June 10, 2014 5:47PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014 7:21PM EDT
After more than half a century, the Senior Citizens Council of Ottawa is closing its doors, blaming the United Way for cutting its funding. It's the latest in a growing list of agencies struggling to make it in a tough environment competing for your donation dollars.
“This is the last annual general meeting of the Senior Citizens Council.” Those were the opening remarks at today’s Annual General Meeting, the last AGM for the council, as it ceases operations at the end of September. It is news that Daphne Fletcher didn't want to hear. These meetings and the support she got through the Senior Citizens Council have been her lifeline.
"I am very sad to see this is the last meeting we're going to have,” said Fletcher, outside the AGM, “ It's as if the seniors aren't human beings anymore.”
It's not just seniors. Ottawa Family Services lost 20% of their funding. The Ottawa-Carleton Independent Living Centre lost all of it. Many of these United Way member agencies are afraid to talk; worried about who will be next? The Citizen Advocacy of Ottawa says its funding agreement is up next year.
“I think we need to go back and look at what is the vision of our community,” says Brian Tardif, the Executive Director of Citizen Advocacy, which provides services for people with disabilities, “We have to look at the blueprint to say, “Is it working?” because in my mind it isn't.”
A few years ago, the United Way changed how it funds agencies. The organization was looking for more measurable outcomes. Donors can also decide where they want their money to go.
The Senior Citizens Council has been the entry point for senior services. It lost two-thirds of its funding in 2011 and the rest of it the following year. The council didn't even apply this time round.
"Fifty-seven years of serving seniors,” says Kathleen Gottfried, the executive director of the Senior Citizens Council, “all with volunteers. Just 3 staff and volunteers delivering the service.”
No one from the United Way was available for an interview today. But Evelyn Towers, who volunteered with the organization for years wanted to add this comment.
“Oh don’t get me going,” said an angry Towers, “I am absolutely stunned.”