There are so many reasons why wealthy people engage in philanthropy. They often feel a sense of obligation, wanting to give back to society. Donating to hospitals is popular because many wealthy individuals have strong ties to their communities or the place they made their wealth. Giving money to hospitals is a direct line to supporting the well-being of the community.
Charitable donations come with tax benefits, a way for wealth individuals to reduce their taxable income. Donating to hospitals is a way for people to cement their legacies as well, through the establishment of wings, buildings or programs in their name.
Scarborough Health Network (SHN) Foundation works with numerous generous donors, volunteers and community members to build state-of-the-art infrastructure and purchase the latest medical technology – things not entirely covered by government funding. We spoke with SHN Foundation’s president and CEO Alicia Vandermeer about their vision and mission.
1. Why should people donate to SHN? Why is this a priority?
Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is the third-largest community health network in Ontario, and our three hospitals serve nearly 1 million people across Scarborough, Markham, and Durham.
However, we’ve historically been left behind for decades when it comes to capital investment. Our hospitals must catch up, and our talented healthcare teams deserve updated facilities and modern equipment to continue providing exceptional quality care to our community.
Our emergency rooms are over capacity and have not seen significant upgrades for nearly 50 years. Despite providing excellent care, our healthcare providers could do so much more in modern, innovative facilities.
SHN is made up of three hospitals – Birchmount, Centenary, and General – and serves a diverse community. In fact, Scarborough is one of the most diverse communities in Canada, with 74% visible minorities and 59% who are new Canadians. We want to fulfill the promise of equitable healthcare in Canada, but many people need to be made aware that healthcare isn’t totally free. Ontario hospitals must fund 10% of all capital infrastructure projects and 100% of all equipment costs. That’s why donations are so crucial for the well-being of Scarborough and, ultimately, all of Toronto.
We’ve been fortunate to secure $1.2 billion in funding from the Government of Ontario for our current projects and the redevelopment of our Birchmount Hospital. However, after decades of being left behind, we have a lot of catching up to do.
2. What are some of the ways people can donate?
People can donate in a multitude of ways. Monthly donations are a great way to provide continued and ongoing support for areas of emerging needs – things that can be unexpected, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
We host a number of events throughout the year, including our Annual Golf Classic at Angus Glen, our Sip, Shop & Celebrate event at Centennial College, and our newest SHN ZOO DAY event at the Toronto Zoo. These are great ways to get introduced to our cause, network with like-minded philanthropic individuals, and support SHN.
Planned Giving is another way to donate, whether by including SHN Foundation in your will, giving through gifts of securities, or life insurance. Planned Giving is an incredible way to give back that has tax benefits to you and your loved ones and ensures SHN has confirmed support long into the future.
Depending on the size of the gift, it can also help leave a lasting legacy for you and your family through recognition opportunities within our hospitals.
Finally, major gifts are larger investments in our hospitals and can be directed to areas of greatest need or to an area that is close to your heart. We work personally with donors to provide meaningful recognition for their generosity.
You can learn more about ways to give here.
3. Can you give us an idea on who typically donates to the Foundation?
We see donors from all different backgrounds, circumstances, and economic situations come forward to support us and our momentous Love, Scarborough campaign. From major corporations like the Big 5 Banks who collectively gave $10 million to charitable foundations like the Slaight Foundation, to noted philanthropists like the Nanji Family Foundation, amongst many others.
All of our donors share a common value – they believe everyone deserves equitable access to healthcare. We also see tremendous support from our Scarborough community, who know the importance of investing in their local community hospitals.
4. What is SHN focusing on, in terms of projects, over the next few years, that people should know about?
We have several priority projects within our current Love, Scarborough campaign that aims to raise $200 million. These include:
- Re-imagining diagnostic imaging at our General Hospital to become Toronto’s most modern imaging concourse
- Improving kidney and dialysis care in our hospitals and through the innovative Bridletowne Neighbourhood Centre in collaboration with the United Way and YMCA
- Expanding our emergency department at Centenary Hospital to build Canada’s FIRST no-wait emergency by placing a physician at triage
- Removing barriers to mental health care through the Community Mental Health Centre
Future priorities include elevating and innovating, including exciting projects that will significantly improve care for Scarborough and beyond:
- A new learning facility at our Centenary Hospital that will serve incoming medical students from the Scarborough Academy of Medicine and Integrated Health (SAMIH). SHN will be the anchor partner for this brand-new medical school, training medical providers right here in Scarborough
- The new SHN Research Institute to advance research, innovation, and pilot new programs and models of care
- Building a new Birchmount Hospital
- Establishing Centres of Excellence across our three hospitals
5. How has SHN benefited the community?
Everybody will rely on their local community hospital at some point – whether during an emergency, to have a baby, for tests or diagnoses, or even to visit a loved one. SHN is there for our community in moments of need – and even for those who don’t live in Scarborough. We have internationally recognized physicians who provide exceptional, compassionate care every day, and our community knows they can count on us for their healthcare needs.
Additionally, the Love, Scarborough marketing campaign, launched in January 2022, gave a voice to Scarborough for the first time. Scarborough has sometimes gotten a bad rap in the media, and Love, Scarborough finally put us in a positive light and made people proud to be from Scarborough. It was a rallying cry for our community, and what is even more amazing, people listened. We’ve done more than anyone thought possible, with less than anyone could imagine. Imagine what we could do with more.
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