The United Way funds anti-choice groups – and defends it

For immediate release

The public should stop supporting United Way until it ends funding to community groups that deceive and misinform clients

VANCOUVER – The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) is concerned that The United Way occasionally provides funding to anti-abortion pregnancy centres and is defending these grants.

In the latest example, The United Way of Pembina Valley in Manitoba provided $4,800 for “pregnancy support services” to Pembina Valley Pregnancy Care Centre, according to a March 23, 2024 article in the Pembina Valley Online.

ARCC wrote to the United Way in April to provide evidence of bias and deception around the topic of abortion on the website of the Pembina Pregnancy Care Centre, which has long been included on ARCC’s list of anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centres” (CPCs).

In the letter, we asked the United Way of Pembina Valley to disqualify the Pembina Pregnancy Care Centre from any future funding. We also asked the national organization, United Way Centraide Canada, to revise its national and provincial funding policies to end funding to anti-abortion agencies anywhere in Canada. (In 2017, the Norfolk Pregnancy Centre received funding from the United Way of Haldimand and Norfolk, and it’s likely that a few other centres have received funding over the years.)

But in its June 1st reply, the United Way refused to disqualify anti-abortion centres from future funding, stating:

We acknowledge receipt of your letter regarding our grant to the Pembina Valley Pregnancy Care Centre. It has been reviewed with our Board of Directors, and we have consulted with United Way Centraide on the matter.

The United Way does not take a position on the issue of abortion. Rather, the United Way believes all pregnant people deserve access to information and services to make choices that are right for them.

At United Way Pembina Valley, our granting decisions are made by a board of community members who represent a variety of points of view and demographics. We try to make decisions based on key needs identified in our community, supporting non-profit organizations with programs and services that meet those needs.

“Despite claiming not to take a position on abortion, the United Way IS taking a position,” said Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of ARCC. “They’re in favour of funding community groups that misinform and deceive vulnerable clients who want or need an abortion.”

About 150 anti-choice pregnancy centres operate across Canada, according to ARCC’s research. “A common denominator across these ‘fake clinics’ is moral disapproval of abortion, which means they are unwilling to help people access this care and may try to dissuade them or delay them,” said Arthur. “But abortion is a necessary health service in Canada and a fundamental right. It’s very concerning that these centres exist just to target pregnant people experiencing an unintended pregnancy, who may visit these centres to ask about abortion and how to get one, without suspecting that they’re being misled.”

The United Way depends on the generosity of Canadians to support it, both through donations and activism. But Arthur pointed out that most Canadians support reproductive rights.

“We’re asking the public to please stop supporting the United Way anywhere in Canada, to ensure your money doesn’t end up in the pockets of anti-choice groups,” said Arthur. “Until United Way Centraide Canada changes its funding policies to disqualify agencies that work to undermine human rights, it’s not safe to support the United Way.”

Contact: Joyce Arthur, Executive Director, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada; 604-351-0867

Other Media Contacts

Posted in