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An Open Letter from Volunteer Centres on Labour Day 2020

September 7, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cara Eaton
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Last updated: September 4, 2020


On Labour Day, September 7th 2020, we join our Volunteer Centre colleagues across the country in publishing a co-authored, open letter to advocate for the essential role of volunteers, and the systems that enable them, during the recovery of our country.

Excerpts from “Volunteer Centres: An Untapped Resource”


We’re writing this letter, signed by aligned Volunteer Centres in a robust network across the country, to speak up on how meaningful volunteerism is enabled.

Canadians volunteer more than anywhere else in the world. Every year, nearly 13 million individuals contribute time to an organization in their community, and during the COVID-19 pandemic hundreds of thousands more have stepped up to deliver services to those most vulnerable. While it’s clear that volunteerism is a powerful characteristic of Canadian identity, the role of Volunteer Centres—the vibrant network of 200+ agencies whose role it is to facilitate this extraordinary exchange—is far from understood, or worse yet, has been ignored. In recent weeks, we have been reminded that, in many instances, governments, funders, and even some non-profit leaders, fail to recognize the skill, resources, and infrastructure required to keep volunteers engaged and our social services afloat.

More than ever, Canada’s 170,000 non-profit and charitable organizations have turned to volunteer centres for answers during the COVID-19 crisis. As organizations with decades of experience, we know that it takes expertise to respond quickly and effectively to recruit, train, and manage volunteers to serve clients safely. And what’s more, we know how to leverage the skills and interest of volunteers to build meaningful roles that grow personal experience, and therefore, economic and social opportunity.

While some governments spent time, energy and money in building new

structures and mechanisms to recruit and deploy volunteers at national and

provincial levels, local community based Volunteer Centres have been on

the front-lines in realigning their existing resources; providing training and

supports for volunteer engagement; coordinating recovery efforts; and pulling together diverse partners to meet identified needs – most often without additional financial or human resources.


As Canada’s largest Volunteer Centre, we are proud to stand up and speak out against unethical practices that do not enable a meaningful two-way relationship between volunteers and the causes that need them. We continue to collaborate with community leaders to advocate for the meaningful management of volunteer labour and the role of volunteer centres in our society.


For additional information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Cara Eaton
Director of Strategic Communications, Volunteer Toronto

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