A special place for special kids
It takes a special kind of love to be a parent of a child who is served here at ErinoakKids. It takes a special kind of professional to work here at ErinoakKids. The very reason there is a special place in heaven for the community of kids, parents, staff, volunteers and others is because of the way you come together to give dignity, purpose, care and love for the very children challenged by their ability to learn and function.
During the first week after I was first elected as an MPP, parents of autistic children began to visit me. At the time, I knew little about the challenges of autism and other learning disorders. I introduced myself to Linda Rothney, then President of Erinoak, later to be re-named ErinoakKids. She, and other staff, board members, and young adults served by ErinoakKids taught me the vital importance of what happens here.
It began a process of more than a decade of working with the various ministries to expand operational funding, get funding for new programs, and most of all, to convince the Ministry of Children and Youth Services of the need for state-of-the-art facilities for what is Ontario’s largest children’s treatment centre.
Seven years ago, former Minister Laurel Broten, who now lives in Nova Scotia, worked with me and then-MPP and now Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, and we got the decision to build the three new buildings in Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville. Thank you in absentia to Laurel and to Linda.
Bridget Fewtrell and her wonderful people here have helped me keep an eye on progress and ensure that unexpected delays from the Province didn’t happen.
At home, Andrea and I have raised some fir trees from finger-size seedlings. We are very proud to know that two of our evergreen trees will be replanted and grow here on the ErinoakKids property. Now, this magnificent centre, the largest of its kind in Ontario, with 103,000 square feet of service space in this building alone, helps Ontario’s best children’s service staff look after almost 17,000 clients and their families with a staff of 850 across all three sites.
In elected office, one has a chance to do something important, and often it is not what you think it might be when you are first elected. For me, that issue has been ErinokKids. I will always remember with pride of my years in public office, the small part I played in advocacy on behalf of ErinoakKids. As I pass the building on the way to and from Queen’s Park, I always look at it from the GO train, and think to myself, “I helped get that done.”
Congratulations, ErinoakKids. Welcome home. Thank you for the precious opportunity to bring the resources of Ontario to Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville to serve the kids and families whose need defines the greatness of our Province in rising to this challenge to build ErinoakKids.