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United Way downtown charities hit hard by truck convoy occupation

United Way East Ontario's CEO says it's excruciatingly hard listening to all the suffering Ottawa's most vulnerable groups are enduring amid the ongoing protests.
2022-01-31 truck convoy 3
Truck convoy protest on Parliament Hill on Monday, January 31, 2022. (Photo/Nigel Newlove)

The helm of an Ontario charity says it's excruciatingly hard listening to all the suffering Ottawa's most vulnerable is enduring amid ongoing trucker convoy protests occupying the city's downtown core.

Michael Allen, United Way East Ontario's CEO and president, told The Sam Laprade Show that 37 of the non-profit's charities have been impacted.

He said 25 per cent of Ottawa's low-income seniors live within the downtown core along with 32 per cent of single-income families.

Many of those people seek some level of emotional or financial support from one of the 37 charities, all of which call downtown Ottawa home.

"They're creating more anxiety, more intimidation and more fear," Allen said. "If and when we do get through this, there will be a lot of rebuilding to diminish all that anxiety to reduce those health challenges."

He added that partial funding — which provided direct support services for mental health needs — had to be diverted to shelter staff in hotels as well as protect the 37 charities with security.

That funding also went towards transportation for volunteer support that each charity relies on to support active programs.

Allen also said staff and volunteers are being hit hard by the so-called "Freedom Convoy" occupation, many of whom are working twice as hard to quell the stress and hurt caused by a two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and, now, the protests.

He explained details of a conversation he had with a blind elderly woman who was confronting a cacophony of horns almost daily. It became an obstacle that blunted her path and ability to use her other senses, tools that normally aid her in crossing busy intersections when going home.

"The horns were blaring her other senses that she relied on," Allen said. "After losing her sight ... this made her more blind in many other ways."

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