Are Ontario's children and youth with disabilities falling between provincial budget cracks?

    Erinoak forced to lease more property to manage space shortage

    TORONTO, April 12 /CNW/ - Erinoak, Ontario's largest treatment centre for
children with disabilities is today being forced to lease more space in order
to manage the critical space shortage it faces. Long waiting lists, less
treatment time and make shift treatment space resulting from unprecedented
increases in the number of children with disabilities and their families could
be avoided if the provincial government allocates $50 million to Erinoak for a
new facility.
    The number of children and families served by Erinoak has grown from
1,400 in 1995 to more than 8,000 today, an average growth rate of nearly
10% per year. Projections show that by 2011, a mere four years from now,
Erinoak will need to serve 13,000 children and youth.
    "When you look at the capital dollars the government is allocating to
Ontario's health care sector it's clear they understand that investing in
infrastructure is key to not only managing population growth in the region but
also quality health care. However, we have yet to see that type of proactive
planning being directed towards children's treatment centres which face urgent
pressures," says Scott Bonikowsky, parent and Board Member of Erinoak. "We
believe the government needs to take the same strategic view with children's
treatment centres which are such a vital part of Ontario's health care
network, and invest today in the province's children with disabilities."
    Without $50 million in government financial support for a new facility,
Erinoak will not be able to meet the current or future needs of this
vulnerable population. Without funding for a new facility, thousands of
children and youth with disabilities will not be able to access vitally needed
care. They will continue to face clinically inappropriate wait times,
treatments delivered in inadequate and inappropriate space, and less treatment
    The creation of a new, larger facility will also mean that the
$1.5 million currently being spent on rent each year to lease additional
treatment space at commercial rates could immediately be redirected into
treatment, where it is so desperately needed. If the rent was redeployed into
treatment Erinoak could serve 500 more children with physical disabilities.
The new leased space signed today by Erinoak will be used for an autism
program and represents Erinoak's sixth site, bringing the total space Erinoak
rents up to approximately 75,000 square feet.
    "Without a plan for growth we are going to face an inefficient,
fragmented, patchwork system of support and care for children and youth with
disabilities and their families," says Catherine Courson, Board Member of
Erinoak. "We were bewildered when the provincial budget was announced and
there was no mention of capital funding for Erinoak. We're being forced to
turn offices into makeshift treatment rooms, hallways are now becoming offices
and yet again, we're renting more space as a stop gap measure. We're hopeful
that the government will recognize the urgency behind our request and not
resort to band-aid solutions."
    To meet current and future demand for care and address its infrastructure
challenges, Erinoak needs an expanded facility - a state of the art
therapeutic and wellness centre providing a full range of programs, services
and integrated support to children and youth with disabilities and their

    As envisioned, this new 125,640 square foot facility would allow Erinoak

    -   Meet its current and anticipated levels of demand.

    -   Increase capacity to provide more individual and group therapy,
        clinics and expanded in-centre treatment for a greater number of

    -   Provide more recreational and respite opportunities for children with
        complex multiple disabilities and their families.

    -   Deliver multiple disabilities services, infant hearing program,
        preschool speech and language program, family support services,
        preschool autism services, assistive devices resource services and
        clinical supports.

    -   Close gaps in care for individuals with disabilities over the age of
        19 who are no longer eligible for treatment within the children's
        service sector, but continue to face challenges in finding adequate
        care and gaining independence.

    -   Align with the provincial government's established goal of building
        strong and livable communities that offer a high quality of life for
        Ontarians of all abilities.

    "We struggled 35 years ago to make sure our children were getting the
care they needed. Thirty-five years later, it's still an uphill battle," says
Gwen Carlson, Founding Board Member of Erinoak. "I was hopeful that times
would change and government would make sure that our children and youth with
disabilities would get the services they deserve."

    Erinoak is Ontario's largest non-profit children's treatment centre that
offers a comprehensive range of community-based, family-centered treatment,
rehabilitation and support services to children (from birth through 19 years
of age) with physical, developmental and/or communication disabilities. By
coupling leading therapeutic services with an innovative and nurturing
approach to delivering care to our children, their families and the community
at large, Erinoak builds on the strengths of children so they may achieve
their potential and grow up to lead active and fulfilling lives. More than
35-years later, Erinoak provides a comprehensive range of programs and support
services to more than 8,000 children and young persons in over 900 communities
including Halton, Peel, Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin. Visit for more information about its advocacy campaign for
a new facility.

For further information:

For further information: To interview an Erinoak spokesperson or to find
out more information, please contact: Sandra Nunes,, (416) 413-4611; Amy Diniz,, (416) 413-4696

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