In 1971, Ontario Premier William Davis had just won another majority government for the Conservatives at Queen's Park and Pierre Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada. That year, a group of parents in Mississauga decided children with disabilities in Peel and Halton needed a rehabilitation centre. They formed the Credit Valley Association for Handicapped Children (CVAHC), elected a board of directors and obtained a charter.
In 1975, the Ontario Ministry of Health approved construction of a new building for CVAHC, while nursery school programming for kids with disabilities went ahead in the meantime using leased space at Burnhamthorpe Public School.
In 1977, the CVAHC bought three acres (1.2 hectares) of land in Erin Mills, Mississauga for $83,000 and began building what would be its physical location.
In 1978, the centre was completed and named the Credit Valley Treatment Centre for Children. Diana Thomson was hired as Executive Director. Rehabilitation therapy and support services began and the nursery program moved to the new site.
In 1979, the Credit Valley Treatment Centre for Children had its official opening.
In 1982, the Ontario government passed Bill 82 to safeguard the right of children to be educated in their community schools. As a result, our onsite elementary school closed as its students were to be integrated into community schools.
In 1984, CVTCC leased space on Rutherford Road for an additional nursery school program. Later, the Brampton program moved to Bovaird and Kennedy Roads, leasing space from the Region of Peel.
In 1985, the Centre was asked by the Ministry of Health to provide occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech language therapy to children with disabilities attending school in Halton and Peel.
In 1987, the Board of Directors decided that the Centre needed a new name, in part because many people wanted to avoid using the term "treatment," which sounded overly clinical at that time. Since we served an area straddling the border between Erin Mills and Oakville, our new name would use the word Erinoak. Our full name became Erinoak Serving Young People with Physical Disabilities.
In 1990, Erinoak became a transfer payment agency for the Ministry of Community and Social Services for the Special Services at Home Program for families with children with disabilities living in Peel and Halton.
In 1992, Erinoak received its first Canadian Council on Health Facilities Accreditation (CCHFA). This valued health-care accreditation status would be continually renewed in the years to come.
In 1993, the Erinoak nursery program in Brampton moved to space leased from the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic School Board in St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, and a third nursery program opened in shared space with the North Halton Association for the Developmentally Handicapped in Milton.
In 1997, the Ontario Ministry of Health named Erinoak the lead administrative partner for the Halton and Peel Preschool Speech and Language Program. That same year, the organization switched from a departmental model to a program management model for service delivery, which was a quantum leap in delivering better family-centred service. Our Brampton site was relocated to newly leased space in the Brampton Civic Centre, and we rented space at the Oaklands Regional Centre to launch a weekend respite camp for our client families. These were all happy developments. The announcement by Diana Thomson that she would retire was bittersweet for us. It spoke of a well-earned respite for Diana - but for the organization, it meant change was coming.
In 1998, Linda Rothney was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Erinoak. She arrived with a strong dedication and resume. A Certified Health Executive, Rothney was the former Executive Director of the Halton District Health Council and former Director of Corporate Services at Princess Margaret Hospital. She came with the right background, because Erinoak was rapidly growing and expanding. Also in 1998, the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) of Peel awarded Erinoak a three-year contract to provide school rehabilitation services to children with disabilities living in Peel Region.
By 1999, there had been nine years of unprecedented population growth in Ontario while the funding for the services Erinoak provided remained the same. Through its Office of Integrated Services for Children, the Ontario government carefully reviewed services provided to children with multiple disabilities at the 19 Children's Treatment Centres (CTCs) across Ontario. Later that year, as a financial sustainability measure, Erinoak and other CTCs lowered the upper age for services from 22 to 19 years old.
In 2000, Erinoak was named lead agency to provide intensive early intervention for preschoolers with autism in the Central West Region of Ontario, spanning Halton, Peel, Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin.
In 2001, the Ministry of Community and Social Services provided funding for Erinoak’s Respite Camp at Oaklands Regional Centre, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation approved a grant request for $375,000 over five years to develop programs to help kids required to leave Erinoak at age 19 to make a successful transition to independence. Another expression of confidence came from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which appointed us as the lead agency for the Infant Hearing Program in Central West Region. The Ministry of Community and Social Services announced that in the following year we would receive $2.94 million in new and annualized funding to expand our Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) program for children with autism.
In 2002, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care provided a $6.4 million increase in annual operating funds. That year we relocated our Brampton site to a larger location on Sandalwood Parkway, opened our second site in Mississauga on North Sheridan Way, and implemented a growth plan to increase services, increase the number of clients served, and reduce wait times. In 2002 we also began to deliver the Ontario government's Central West Infant Hearing Program (CWIHP) to identify and treat children with hearing impairment.
In 2003, we relocated our Oakville site from Oaklands Regional Centre to 1122 International Boulevard in Burlington. It was called the Burloak site because it was off Burloak Drive. In 2003 we also began serving clients with multiple disabilities in Dufferin County.
In 2004, Erinoak implemented a centralized intake services centre, where incoming calls are answered by a person within six seconds. That year, Community Care Access Centre of Peel awarded us a three-year contract to provide school rehabilitation services to children with disabilities living in Peel. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services appointed us to deliver a new School Support Program for children with autism in Halton, Peel, Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin. In 2004, Erinoak's Brief Intervention Clinic Team won a National Best Practice Award at the Ontario Hospital Convention - we were one of eight winners in a field of more than 260 submissions from across Canada.
In 2005, Erinoak implemented the latest high-tech, computerized methods of patient registration, work measurement and budgeting, and joined the secure provincial Smart Systems for Health network and the Electronic Health Network in partnership with Bloorview Kids Rehab.
In 2005 Erinoak's new $6.4 million Central West School Support Program for children with autism became fully operational, in partnership with all 10 school boards in Halton, Peel, Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin counties. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services provided an additional $1,039,000 in funding for the Preschool Autism Program.
In 2006, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services announced an additional $10 million in funding for rehabilitation and complex care programs in Children's Treatment Centres; Erinoak's portion of that funding would be $1,990,000 per year. The ministry also increased the annual funding for Erinoak's Intensive Behavioural Intervention program for children with autism by $1,787,600. In 2006 the Ontario Trillium Foundation approved our application for a Home and Vehicle Modification Project in the amount of $75,000 per year for three years, to help clients make their cars and homes more usable for kids with disabilities.
With new responsibilities as the largest Children's Treatment Centre in Ontario, it was time to think about sculpting our public image to be more in line with what we do. The Erinoak Board of Directors launched a new branding and communications initiative to increase awareness and mobilize support for the organization.
In 2007, the Ontario government named us as the lead agency to administer its new Blind-Low Vision Early Intervention Program in the areas we serve - a program to be patterned after the Infant Hearing Program, which Erinoak already operated.
In June 2007, Erinoak Serving Young People with Physical Disabilities was renamed ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development to reflect the organization's role in health care.
In October 2007, Linda Rothney, ErinoakKids; President and CEO, announced plans to retire in April 2008 after a decade leading the organization with honour and distinction. The Board of Directors then began both an external and internal search for a new president and CEO.
In March 2008, the ErinoakKids Board of Directors unanimously approved the appointment of Bridget Fewtrell as President and CEO. Ms. Fewtrell started with the organization in 1999 and progressed to Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2005. By promoting Ms. Fewtrell to the position of President and CEO, the Board ensured the continued excellence of management, and expansion of vision and clarity of purpose for the organization.
In April 2008, the Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services, Deb Matthews, announced a grant of $1 million to ErinoakKids to begin detailed planning for its proposed new treatment centre. This greatly anticipated and needed project required more than $50 million.
On June 19, 2008, Ms. Fewtrell and Board Chair Scott Bonikowsky welcomed Ontario Lieutenant Governor David C. Onley as the distinguished guest at our South Millway location, on the first anniversary of the day the organization adopted the new name ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development. The event honoured our donors and volunteers, and marked a time in our organization’s evolution as a leader in the treatment and development of children with disabilities in Ontario and beyond.
His Honour comes to visit – On June 19, 2008, Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley visited our South Millway site for a special event in honour of our donors and volunteers. Above, left, former President and CEO Linda Rothney meets His Honour (right) as he is being escorted by current President and CEO Bridget Fewtrell (centre).
In 2009, the Board approved the establishment of an ErinoakKids Foundation and named Anissa Hilborn as its inaugural President. Ms. Hilborn joined ErinoakKids from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She has also held senior responsibility at the Credit Valley Hospital Foundation. As ErinoakKids Foundation President, Ms. Hilborn began building our Foundation to support a capital campaign for our future endeavours.
In the spring of 2009, Ms. Fewtrell marked her first anniversary as President and CEO and she announced that Zeidler Partnership Architects was selected to work with ErinoakKids to develop a business case for a new facility, including detailed plans to be submitted as a full proposal to the Ontario government in 2010.
Also in 2009, changes in the children’s health-care sector and at ErinoakKids required the launch of a renewed ErinoakKids Strategic Plan. With its emphasis on service integration, holistic care, and efficient and effective use of resources, the new Strategic Plan will enable ErinoakKids to successfully fulfil its mission.
In April 2010, the Ontario government – thanks in part to working with our partners including our local MPPs, CEO and the Ontario Association for Children’s Rehabilitation Services (OACRS) – announced $9 million in new funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for Children’s Treatment Centres, in order to improve services and alleviate wait times. ErinoakKids received $1.38 million as a result of the new funding.
In August 2010, after a full year of detailed planning, ErinoakKids submitted a business case for facilities redevelopment to the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services for consideration. The proposal detailed plans to serve the broad ErinoakKids catchment area through three sites including a new main site in Brampton, and two satellite sites in Mississauga and Halton.
In May 2011, Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten came to the ErinoakKids South Millway location to announce the ministry's approval of the ErinoakKids facilities redevelopment proposal.
Also in May 2011, ErinoakKids was awarded lead agency status to provide Applied Behaviour Analysis-based services and supports to youngsters with an Autism Spectrum Disorder aged infancy to nine years across Central West Ontario, further enhancing the range of services provided by the Centre.
In July 2011, ErinoakKids implemented a new service delivery model, setting aside the previous program-based model in favour of a fully integrated continuum of services, with no barriers.
In October 2012, Mississauga Board of Trade named ErinoakKids Not-For-Profit of the Year.
In September 2013, we announced the location of our three new sites in Brampton, Mississauga and Oakville.
In November 2014, the Peel-Halton Partnership (PHP) was selected to design, build and finance these new facilities.
May 2015: Break ground and commence construction on all sites. Groundbreaking ceremonies held for Brampton and Mississauga sites.
February 2016: Construction celebration held for Halton site.
In January of 2018, our new sites opened for business.
In July of 2023, Bridget Fewtrell retired after 25 years of dedicated service to ErinoakKids, including 15 years as President and CEO, and Chris Hartley was named Chief Operating Officer by the Board of Directors.
We are so grateful for those who have made it possible for ErinoakKids to develop into an organization that serves thousands of children and youth and their families every year. We look forward to what the future holds!