Annual Report

Redefining Possibilities, Embracing Change

CEO & Chair Report: 2022 – 2023

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) has undergone a transformative journey in the past fiscal year, marked by a commitment to embrace change, redefine possibilities and achieve remarkable advancements. We have faced ongoing challenges while establishing new goals and strategic plans across the organization.

Equality, Diversity, Inclusion: Belonging @SCIO

Our unwavering dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusion has remained at the forefront of our work. In the past year, we successfully launched anti-black racism training, Rainbow Health Foundations training, and introduced pronoun signatures on various communication platforms. These initiatives are helping to foster an inclusive environment within SCIO, ensuring that all individuals feel valued and respected.

Strengthening Internal Support Systems

Internally, we made significant strides in strengthening our tools and support systems. The Finance/IT department dedicated efforts to enhancing financial management processes and document management systems. Through software upgrades and migration to SharePoint, we improved efficiency, accuracy and collaboration across the organization. These improvements laid a solid foundation for our operations, enabling us to better serve our staff, clients and the wider community.

Exceeding Client Service Expectations

Externally, our Client Services team demonstrated an unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of our clients. They exceeded the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) placement target by 25% within the Employment Services team. Furthermore, we adopted a peer and community engagement plan, providing more face-to-face opportunities for our community to foster greater connections. In addition, we are proud to announce our memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UHN, which formalizes our working relationship and enables increased inpatient access for SCIO. This collaboration is not only facilitating smoother discharge planning but also to more successful patient transitions back to the community.

Enhancing the Standard of Care

In our quest to elevate the standard of care for individuals with spinal cord injuries, SCIO collaborated extensively with distinguished clinicians from renowned rehabilitation centers across Ontario. Together, we developed educational videos that elucidate the significance of performing skin checks for individuals with spinal cord injuries. These videos are seamlessly integrated into our patient education programs, significantly raising the standard of care within the SCI rehabilitation landscape.

While we celebrate our commendable achievements, we also encountered challenges within the competitive landscape of fee-for-service work. As a result, we made the strategic decision to discontinue Cortree Professional Services. Instead, we will refocus our efforts on providing critical training opportunities for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) through open-access platforms. Our commitment to accessibility and removing financial burdens led us to actively seek partnerships with organizations offering free tuition for PSWs. By doing so, we aspire to reach the widest possible audience of service providers dedicated to individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Community Engagement and Commitment to Change

Our community engagement and advocacy efforts generated significant attention and support, particularly in mobilizing our community, research partners, donors, and corporate allies to advocate for public coverage in bladder management funding to the Ontario Government. Through campaigns such as “Pee for Free” and “Pee it Forward,” we not only raised awareness but also enhanced understanding and garnered crucial support for this fundamental aspect of SCI care.

The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities within our community, particularly concerning attendant services and the accessibility and affordability of essential assistive devices. While we made progress in areas such as increased wages for PSWs and exploration of recruitment and retention strategies, challenges persist in ensuring access to these essential supports. Addressing these challenges remains a top priority for SCIO as we work tirelessly to build pathways forward for greater in-community support.

Collaborations and Partnerships for Progress

Collaborations and building partnerships are integral to our achievements and will continue to be as we move into our new strategic plan. From forming coalitions with other organizations in the disability and healthcare space to broadening MOUs with all rehab hospitals across Ontario, working with research partners and individuals with spinal cord injuries has led to remarkable advancements in neurotrauma care pathways, SCI rehabilitation accreditation standards, and essential needs research. These initiatives are having a tangible impact on improving support, services, and health recovery for individuals with SCI, not only in Ontario but also beyond.

As we look forward, we count on your continued dedication to raising awareness and garnering greater support for SCIO. There are several opportunities for learning, participation, and shared experiences, from attending or sponsoring one or more of our fundraising events (Comedy Night, Celebrity Axe Battle, Roll’n’Bowl, and Ski & Snowboard Day) to engaging with initiatives like the “Underestimated” series on the Cortree platform. “Underestimated”, in collaboration with Rogers TV Simcoe, features expert clinicians and individuals with lived experiences, and has emerged as a powerful platform for disseminating invaluable tools, resources, and insights for individuals with disabilities.

Priorities for the Next Fiscal 2023-2024

In 2023-2024, our focus will be on tackling the dire need for more accessible housing across Ontario. Through thoughtful strategic planning and active engagement with key stakeholders, including the accelerated accessibility coalition and the accessible housing network, we will work towards building policies to ensure transformative change within our community.

SCIO remains steadfast in being the voice that delivers and champions support and advocacy for those impacted by spinal cord injuries. To enhance our service offerings and amplify awareness, we are continuously strengthening our education offerings and building greater partnership networks to support the work we do. We aim to broaden our audience and expand our community, bringing industry leaders, healthcare professionals, researchers, counselors, disability specialists, and individuals with lived experiences to the forefront. We recognize the power that comes with understanding and the value that our expertise can bring to those we serve.

Appreciation and Gratitude: Thank you.

On behalf of the entire team at SCIO, we want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to our staff, board members, clients, donors, advocates, collaborators, and the entire community for your invaluable support and unwavering commitment to our mission. Without your dedication, none of the remarkable progress we have achieved would be possible.


Dr. Stuart Howe, CEO, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Sarah Hicks, Chair of the Board of Directors, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Impact At A Glance

People received essential support and services from front line staff.
Volunteer hours that helped deliver our mission.
Service locations helped people all across Ontario.
Peer Events connected people with knowledge.
People supported by Peer Mentors.
People were helped to improve employment skills.
People in need received essential mobility equipment.

Donors that helped support our misson.

Numbers are for Fiscal Year April 1 2022 – March 31 2023


Efficiency and accountability are paramount. We have a strong legacy behind us and uphold our founder’s visionary spirit by keeping SCIO strong and sustainable.

Activist of the Year

David Onley

This year, we are honoured to present the activist of the year award to the late David Onley, a champion of disability advocacy who served as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 2007 to 2014. Mr. Onley was instrumental to SCIO and was a member of our organization for over three decades, often addressing our community at key meetings and events. Mr. Onley was considered by many in the disability community as a mentor and role model. Known for his friendly and approachable demeanor, he was often spotted in conversation with others, providing guidance and insight on key issues affecting those with disabilities.

We are grateful for Mr. Onley’s passion for creating an inclusive world through his work to make Ontario accessible through the AODA and for his utter compassion and dedication toward the disability community. Because of his work and dedication to advocacy, we are better equipped to create a world that is accessible for everyone.

Toronto Blue Jays logo

Employer of the Year

Toronto Blue Jays Stadium Operations

It is with great pleasure that Spinal Cord Injury Ontario Employment Service Team wishes to recognize the Toronto Blue Jays – Stadium Operations as it’s Employer of the Year for 2022-2023.

During the season, Stadium Operations made a commitment to hire more staff with disabilities that reflects, respects, and supports diversity, equity, and inclusion among their staff. They encouraged people to apply and ensured their hiring process was accommodating to applicant’s needs. They hired more staff with disabilities from the community and from Employment Services. The leadership made significant efforts to meet accommodation needs and how to better make the work environment more accessible by listening to their staff’s perspective. They have taken into consideration unique needs and encouraged staff to improve their skills and apply for leadership roles. Staff look forward to returning to the Blue Jays for the next season and are truly an Employer of Choice for our candidates!

Philanthropic Volunteer of the Year

Jake Thomas

Jake’s commitment to the SCIO community is profound. He never hesitates to share his story to help others and, with the help of his family and friends, made an epic 2017 Comedy Night an important awareness and fundraising event. This year, he was the force behind our new Accessible Water Ski Day that introduced people from across Ontario to waterskiing, created beautiful memories, and changed outlooks about life after a spinal cord injury. Thank you, Jake, for your ongoing support.

Philanthropic Partner of the Year

Ontario Trillium Foundation

The challenges for Ontarians living with spinal cord injury have been made easier by important work supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) and its funder, the Government of Ontario. Recent project funding through the visionary Resilient Communities Fund has made it possible to provide an Employment Webinar Series, a Digital Device Library, and a re-envisioning of our used equipment marketplace. Thank you and congratulations to the OTF on 40 years of making Ontario a better place.

Sharon & Jim Vigmond Philanthrophy Award

Dan Martin

For the past two years, Dan Martin has rallied the support of over 150 employees of Aecon Group Inc. who participated in The Aecon Cup Hockey Tournament for SCIO. Thanks to Dan’s efforts, workers and community gathered for a few days of recreation and fun. The tournaments have grossed over $66K for SCIO’s transformative client and family programming. Thank you, Dan, for your support.

Community Builder Award

Joanne Smith

In the three decades since Joanne Smith became involved with SCIO she has been an integral part of our organization. She has volunteered her time as a Peer Mentor and member of the Board of Directors, on fundraising teams, as our go-to host for multiple events and has been the face of the organization on multiple marketing campaigns. She also lends her nutrition expertise and SCI knowledge to our Community magazine to help others with SCI maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A veteran of broadcasting (and voice-over artist for many of our videos), Certified Nutritionist and CEO of Fruitful Elements, Joanne Smith has been a familiar face at SCIO for many years. “I have had a 30-year relationship with SCIO. It’s one that is still going strong to this day and I think it speaks volumes to what I think of the organization. Over all of these years, the one thing that has kept me engaged the most are the friendships that I’ve made. I started out as a client and, following my injury, was part of the Peer Support Program. That’s what really helped me get through. It’s also the reason why I’ve wanted to give back.”

Peer Mentors

2022 Peer Mentor Award Winners

Thunder Bay

Ron Duffy


Zack Elliot


Andrew Bronee


Amie Bouley


Sandra Stephens


Alec Denys


Pierre Heroux


Paul Wright


Ryan Durham

Thank you

In a particularly challenging year, SCIO is grateful for all our supporters who gave generously in the following categories:
SCIO deeply appreciates the sponsorship for our programs and events contributed by the following generous supporters:

$50,000 – $99,999
Insurance Bureau of Canada

$25,000 – $49,999
Bergeron Clifford LLP

$15,000 – $24,999
Bourassa Savaria Foundation
Hollister Ltd.
Thomson Rogers Lawyers

$10,000 – $14,999
Canadian Adult Recreational Hockey Association
McLeish Orlando LLP
Oatley Vigmond LLP
Tilray Medical
Wright Rehabilitation Inc. – Strathroy

$5,000 – $9,999
Bell Mobility
Bruce Power
Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons
Coloplast Canada Corp.
Lerners LLP – London
McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP
Meridian Credit Union
Mölnlycke Health Care
Motion LP
Richard Powers
Provincial Building & Construction Trades Council of Ontario
Teggart Injury Law
The MBTW Group
Universal Motion – Toronto

$1,000 – $4,999
B & J Contracting
Bayshore HealthCare – Mississauga
Beacon Utility Contractors Ltd.
Blue Star Construction Corp.
Brian Grant Mediation
BridgePoint Financial
Bruce Wilson Landscaping Ltd.
Burn Tucker Lachaîne PC
Casemark Financial Inc.
Cedar Infrastructure Products
Conval-Aid Inc.
Earth Boring Co. Ltd.
EMCO Waterworks
Fiera Capital Corp.
Gerd Hermanns Landscape Contractor Inc.

Hard Rock Sewers & Watermain Ltd.
Harris Law, Personal Injury Lawyers
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 128 Ontario
LT Realty
Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee
Motion Composites
Providence Care
Rinker Materials
Ritchfield Inc.
Robert B. Somerville Co. Ltd.
Rogers Communications Canada Inc.
Royal LePage New Concept
Soloway Wright LLP
The Daniels Corp.
The Shadigee Investment Corp.
Trans Power Utility Contractors Inc.
Tribute Communities
Western Mechanical Electrical Millwright Services Ltd.
Yorkwood Homes

$500 – $999
Ambler & Co. Inc.
Atlas Dewatering Corp.
Bartimaeus Rehabilitation Services Inc.
Cohen Highley LLP
Gluckstein Lawyers
Henderson Structured Settlements LP
Ipex Inc.
John Eek & Son Ltd.
Larrek Investigations – Waterloo
McKellar Structured Settlements Inc.
Modern OT
Olympia Sand & Gravel
Rehab First Inc.
Roma Fuels Ltd.
Yeeboo Digital

$250 – $499
Access Solutions
Auger Hollingsworth PC
Josh Cain Real Estate
Kimco Steel Sales Ltd.
Kingston Police Association
National Seating & Mobility
Sawchuk Accessible Solutions
Spencer Rehabilitation Experts
Bob Steacy
TD Wealth Private Investment Counsel – Michael McAuley

SCIO deeply appreciates the funding for our programs and services contributed by the following generous organizations:

Federated Health Charities Corp.
Ontario Trillium Foundation
The Taylor Family Foundation

Grey Bruce Paraplegic Association
Ottawa Community Foundation
Ralota Technologies Corp.
TD Bank

Cohen Highley LLP
Fidelity Investments Canada Ltd.
HelpAge Canada
Minto Foundation Inc.

Lakeshore Rehabilitation Centre – Toronto

Barrhaven Lions Bingo in Trust
Bruyère Foundation
Desjardins Insurance
Gould Leasing Ltd.
Kinsmen Club of Cornwall Inc.
Kiwanis Club of Nepean Inc.
Lions Club of Mount Albert
Mammoet Canada Eastern Ltd.

Rotary Club of Brampton – Heart Lake
Suurdt Properties Ltd.
The Tonglen Foundation
Toronto Electrical Experts
Wawanesa Insurance

Banks Foundation
Compact Constructors Ltd
Dillon Consulting Ltd.
East Side Mario’s – Barrie
Kinette Club of Cornwall
London Community Foundation
Marny Breithaupt Fund
Motion – Toronto Head Office
Ontario Trucking and Disposal
Peel Scrap Metal Recycling
Russell Lions Lottery Fund
The Allaire Foundation
The Good Access Company
The Resende Perkovich Foundation
Vettran Construction 2004 Ltd.

Monto Reno Marina Ltd.
Pledgeling Foundation
The Sixty Tree Foundation
United Association Local Union 67

This year generous gifts were made in memory of the following people:

Anne Bullard
Ada Beacock
Alfred DiLella
Bill Donald
William “Brian” Genoe
Bridget McDonald
Bruce Beatty
Chris Sellen
Christopher Henry Kelly
Danny Mangos
Dave McLellan
Donnie Nichol
Earl C. LeBrun
Eve Ojasoo
Francesca Metcalfe
Gary Becker
Gary Gunraj
Glen Foote
Gordon Mushet
Howard Brandon
James Arthur Endicott
Joan Adams
Joe Faber
John Wilson
Joseph Faber

Joseph Horvath
Kurt Gengenbach
Leonard Goulais
Linda Green
Marc Benoit
Marilyn Godel
Maryann Bradshaw
Michael Westover
Norman Miskin
Pamela Wrigglesworth
Robert Frederick Hunn
Bob Pesant
Rodney Maxted
Ron McNamara
Kenneth Rose
Stephanie Andersen
Ted Van Rompaey
Tehmi Kolah
Thomas Kaufman
Tina Blaauw
Victor Costantino
Viola “Vi” Camick
Wayne Palmer
William Brent Stewart
William Porter

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