Our Collective Voice
Membership in OCASI gives organizations the opportunity to speak with a strong unified voice on issues that matter, build policy and organizational capacity, and remain informed and connected. This year we welcomed 7 agencies as new members.
The shift to virtual work allowed us to engage with member agencies in new ways. We held virtual meetings with member agencies to dialogue with sector leaders and frontline workers on priorities and challenges during the pandemic. We held knowledge sharing sessions on adapting organizational operations during the pandemic, and on employer responsibilities; and we held Town Halls for frontline workers to provide information and counter misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
We supported member agencies in their efforts to educate and inform communities about the pandemic by sourcing and distributing resources on prevention, safety and on vaccines. We collaborated with health practitioners and sector allies to develop and distribute multilingual resources to counter misinformation about COVID-19.
We held a series of focus groups with member agencies on how we can center racial equity in our work as a sector. We will continue these efforts next year in a deeper engagement with members.
“I feel very grateful and proud to be a member of OCASI. We have remained strong during the pandemic because of your advocacy and support. Thank you for being an agent for social change”
“Thank you OCASI for your work with government partners to improve access and adequacy of services and benefits for those who need them"
|member agencies||subscribers - OCASI in the Field Newsletter|
Emergency Support Fund
OCASI established an Emergency Support Fund with grants from the Atkinson Foundation and the WES Mariam Assefa Foundation, to provide emergency financial assistance to vulnerable people in need during the pandemic. People without immigration status or precarious immigration status are not eligible for any government financial support programs. They became the priority for the Emergency Support Fund. We collaborated with 14 charitable organizations to distribute the funds to people in need in Toronto, Ottawa and Southwestern Ontario.
“… Emergency funds were not available to everyone as not everyone had access to federal benefits or unemployment insurance, because of their immigration status … our organization was able to help, providing more than 40 families with immediate relief for rent and secure housing—oftentimes preventing eviction—and critical emergency food assistance.”
“… the majority of the households assisted are located in priority neighborhoods and at high risk of COVID-19 … we identified entire families living without immigration status … many of the individuals we served under this fund identified themselves as single moms, racialized and member of indigenous communities from their country of origin.”
Non-profits with small budgets were among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The WES Mariam Assefa Emergency Support Fund allowed OCASI to provide a one-time emergency payment of $3,000 - $5,000 to small community-based agencies working with marginalized communities – particularly women. Agencies used the fund to support their work and operational capacity during the pandemic.
“ (Organization) appreciates the support of $5,000 from WES and OCASI. It is comforting to know that small organizations are not being forgotten during the crisis”
“This is a much needed fund for our agency. We will use it to invest in technology to enable the staff to telework during the pandemic. I just want to take this opportunity to echo the great words I heard about all the good works that OCASI staff did to support the members and we all appreciate that”
|agencies supported by the Fund|
OCASI Women’s Caucus hosted a series of meetings in 2020 with Caucus members to discuss concerns and share information, promising practices and resources to support their staff and clients during the pandemic. Caucus members were actively involved in several external planning tables and networks to address the impact of the pandemic on their organizations and on women in the sector.
The Caucus held a panel presentation and discussion at the 2020 OCASI Executive Directors’ Forum to identify needs and supports for women-led organizations and women working in the sector, and to develop recommendations. The outcomes will inform future work by the Caucus.
In 2021 the Caucus plans to survey members on their experience in working through the pandemic, and better understand the impact on women’s organizations.
The Francophone Committee is a Standing Committee of the OCASI Board of Directors and is led by the Francophone Director. The Committee informs OCASI’s work on priorities for francophone agencies and francophone refugee and immigrant services.