News release: Health charities call for relief as they support vulnerable Ontarians through COVID-19

Letter to health minister calls for immediate relief, long-term aid

(Toronto) — Health charities in Ontario are calling on the provincial government for immediate relief and long-term aid as they continue to support vulnerable populations through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. A group of over 15 leading health charities, led by the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke, The Canadian Lung Association and Diabetes Canada, sent a letter to Christine Elliott, Minister of Health, asking for support. The letter outlined what is required for health charities to survive as the demand for their support services, education and resources continues to grow while fundraising dollars dwindle due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One third of Canada’s non-profit organizations are based in Ontario, with 1 million employees and an economic contribution of $50 billion to the province’s GDP. Many of these organizations have already been forced to lay off significant numbers of employees – up to 70 per cent in some cases. Organizations call on the provincial government to create a non-profit sector stabilization fund, amplifying the request of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, along with program funding so that organizations can continue to deliver their vital programs and services. The group is also seeking changes to Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance to make it work for the non-profit sector as well as increases to the provincial portion of the charitable donation tax credit.


“Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t stop being a life-changing and life-threatening disease during a global pandemic. Now more than ever, our online and phone support programs are critical to the people we serve, providing information, reducing anxiety and limiting feelings of isolation. But at a time when our services are needed most, we’re also struggling with the greatest financial challenge in our 80-year history. Like all charities right now, we need your help so we can continue to serve the 1 in 2 Ontarians who will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.” 
Jeff Cornett, Ontario Executive Director
Canadian Cancer Society

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused Heart & Stroke to see a revenue drop of $25 million, just as our supports are most needed – research is showing that COVID-19 has a greater impact on people living with heart disease and stroke, putting them at higher risk of serious illness and death. We have had to adapt to this new reality, cancelling discretionary projects, cutting expenses and temporarily laying off about 45% of our staff. A stabilization fund would allow us to continue to fund groundbreaking, peer-reviewed research, train healthcare workers on critical resuscitation skills and provide resources and supports for people living with heart disease and stroke, who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.”
Avril Goffredo, Executive Vice President, Ontario & Nunavut
Heart & Stroke

 “Canadians have relied on our expertise, information and support for 120 years. As a non-profit organization we have been there for Canadians struggling to breathe. Now, it’s us who are struggling. The charity sector needs your help. Canadians need to know our organizations will continue to be there for them; stronger than ever.” 
Terry Dean, President and CEO
The Canadian Lung Association

“Diabetes Canada works to serve the 4.5 million Ontarians living with type 1, type 2, gestational or prediabetes. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Diabetes Canada has lost significant revenue to support funding of innovative diabetes research for improved treatments; and foundational programming that provides education and care to those living with this disease, caregivers, as well as our vital health-care providers. Our expertise is needed to provide a much-needed patient voice to critical advocacy work and develop evidence-based resources so we can continue to work together to build healthy, thriving communities.”
Russell Williams
President, Diabetes Canada

For more information

Nuala McKee
Manager, Public Engagement & Advocacy
Communications, Canadian Cancer Society

Sherry Calder
Senior Manager, Communications
Diabetes Canada

Joshua Terry
Communications Advisor, Ontario
Heart & Stroke
416-489-7111, ext. 24806

Marketa Stastna
Manager, Communications and Marketing
The Canadian Lung Association

About Heart & Stroke

Life. We don’t want you to miss it. That’s why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so people in Canada don’t miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and shape health policies to prevent cancer and support those living with the disease.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit today.

About The Canadian Lung Association

The Canadian Lung Association is the leading organization in Canada helping Canadians breathe – working to save lives, prevent lung disease and improve lung health through research, advocacy, education and support. As a non-profit and volunteer-based health charity, we depend on donations from the public to support our mission to lead nationwide and international lung health initiatives, prevent lung disease, help people manage lung disease and promote lung health.

About Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:

  • Resources for health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
  • Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
  • Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).