New report shows non-profit sector hit hard by COVID-19

Ontario non-profits have been hit hard this past year, thanks in part to COVID-19.

That in a new report from the Ontario Nonprofit Network, which took a look at the impact of the pandemic and what needs to be done to help.

Over at Meals on Wheels Sudbury, it's been no exception. They lost 12 volunteers in a matter of two days at the start of the pandemic, which for a smaller agency is a lot.

Its executive director is hoping with vaccines being administered, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

"You have all these demands on new routes and more clients on those routes, but you're still looking for volunteers because many chose to leave when the pandemic started, and understandably so," said Ketchabaw.

And she said they know they are not alone on this front.

According to the Ontario Nonprofit Network's findings, 61 per cent of non-profits reported a loss of volunteers while funding was also a big issue. Almost 7 out of 10 did not receive any provincial supports.

The report found the Ontario Trillium Foundations' Resilient Communities Fund to be highly oversubscribed, with only half who applied receiving help.

"You know, non-profits and charities provide services to communities, and they're created by communities that want those services and programs," said ONN executive director Cathy Taylor.

Taylor said the problems they're seeing are province-wide. It was smaller groups that were hit hardest and many of those happen to be in northern Ontario.

Funding was also an issue; with fundraisers cancelled, many saw no revenue at all in this past year.

"We're hearing so many stories of organizations (that) folded," she said. "Almost 20 per cent said yes they know of organizations in their communities that have closed."

It's been a busy year on the labour front for Scott Florence. He's seen a lot of people with questions about their health and safety at the Sudbury Workers Education & Advocacy Centre.

That and the city has seen the loss of hundreds of jobs at Laurentian University along with the current strike at USW 6500 with Vale.

"Like many non-profits, we saw a decline in revenue as a result of the pandemic so we lost some funding as a result of that. Donations are down of course, but then we also saw an increase in demand of services," said Florence.

He said this has been a busy year in Sudbury and many are looking to them for input and help.

"So we've kept the doors open, we've kept things going but we're not certain what the future brings," he said. "We could have only another six months left for the organization - so that's really, really stressful."

Both groups say they are looking forward to and hoping for some normalcy.

The report also did find some positives. Francophone non-profits did fare slightly better, but only because of targeted provincial support.