SCIO Annual Report 2023-2024

Strengthening Connections, Enhancing Lives

This past year at Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) has been characterized by a significant push toward reaching new heights in service, advocacy, and community engagement. Our organization, fueled by the strength and resilience of our community, has seen remarkable achievements and substantial progress in strategic areas essential to our mission.

Enhancing Access to Care and Resources

Our efforts to forge robust partnerships have led to the formalization of referral relationships with leading healthcare providers such as the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Providence Care. These partnerships are critical, enhancing our continuum of care and enabling more effective transitions for our clients from hospital to home.

Our collaborative efforts with healthcare institutions have led to the creation of vital educational resources. Notably, our skin check videos, developed in partnership with leading rehabilitation centers, have now been integrated into routine patient care, improving outcomes for hundreds of individuals.

Client Services has surpassed expectations, with our Accessible Employment Services team achieving a 25% increase over the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) placement targets. The partnership with University Health Network (UHN) via a new MOU has revolutionized our inpatient services, facilitating better transitions for over 100 patients this year.

Innovative Technology, Enhanced Knowledge & Policy Impact

Internally, our efforts have been directed at strengthening our operational foundations. Significant improvements in our financial and IT systems have enhanced our efficiency and service delivery, ensuring that we can respond more effectively to the needs of our community.

The revamp and launch of our digital platforms have extended our reach and enriched our engagement with the community. The Accessible Employment Services microsite now serves as a vital resource hub, providing comprehensive support for individuals with all disabilities. Moreover, our Cortree platform has seen the introduction of several new series focused on practical self-care techniques, each drawing significant user engagement and positive feedback.

Another critical component of this strategy was the overhaul of our main website,, which now features improved navigation, accessibility features, and enriched content, making it a more valuable resource for our community.

We continue to amplify the voices of our community through our digital platforms. The personal stories shared help to foster a greater understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with spinal cord injuries and drive our advocacy work. These stories not only inspire but also bring to light the critical issues that need our collective attention and action.

In an effort to address a critical need within our community, this year SCIO launched an innovative Intermittent Catheter Series on the Cortree platform. Developed in collaboration with clinical partners at Toronto Rehab – Lyndhurst Centre, this series provided comprehensive resources specifically designed for women and individuals with female anatomy using intermittent catheters. This initiative included a sequence of instructional videos covering various aspects of catheterization—ranging from techniques in different settings (e.g., in bed, in public washrooms) to discussions on best practices and anatomical explanations.

These resources have proven to be crucial in empowering users with the knowledge and confidence needed to manage their personal health care independently, contributing significantly to the overall quality of life. This success is part of our broader digital strategy, which aims to enhance accessibility and usability of essential health resources, ensuring they are beneficial to our community’s diverse needs.

The Intermittent Catheter Series is a prime example of how targeted educational initiatives can address specific gaps in healthcare information, demonstrating SCIO’s commitment to improving care through knowledge exchange and specialized resource development.

Our advocacy initiatives have gained momentum this year, with a concentrated effort on accessible housing and healthcare reforms. Through partnerships with other advocacy groups and direct engagement with policymakers, we have brought essential issues to the forefront of legislative discussions, paving the way for anticipated improvements in policy and support. Our focus will remain on enhancing our advocacy efforts.

2023-2024 was a particularly challenging year financially.  Our government grants for our critical client service and employment programs failed to keep up with inflation, and our fundraising efforts employed to supports all our other specialist resources, supports and advocacy efforts failed to meet their targets.  As a result, we have made significant changes in our fundraising approach for 2024-2025 that we believe will engage more individuals and companies in providing critical financial support, so we have the necessary resources to support all Ontarians living with a spinal cord injury.

Looking Forward: Strategic Goals for 2024-2025

As we look ahead to the next fiscal year, we are excited to build on the strong foundation we have established. Our focus will continue to be on expanding our services, enhancing our digital platforms, and strengthening our advocacy efforts to ensure that individuals with spinal cord injuries have the support and resources they need to thrive.

We are committed to advocating for and collaborating on the development of housing solutions that are fully accessible, addressing one of the most pressing needs of our community.  We are also committed to finally bringing successful resolution to our campaign to secure government funding for intermittent catheters, after four years of inching towards the finish line.

We are set to expand our educational offerings significantly, particularly through our Cortree platform. Plans include the development of new interactive content and resources that address the evolving needs of our community, fostering greater independence and well-being.

Appreciation and Gratitude: Thank you.

Reflecting on this past year, we are inspired and motivated by the achievements and the challenges we have overcome. Your support and dedication are invaluable to us, and we look forward to continuing our journey together, aiming to create a more inclusive and supportive community for all.

Thank you for your continued trust and commitment to our mission. Here’s to another year of growth, impact, and empowerment.


Dr. Stuart Howe
CEO, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Dana Francoz
Chair of the Board of Directors, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Dr. Stuart Howe
CEO, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

By The Numbers 2023-2024

People received essential support and services from front line staff.

Kind volunteers helped us deliver on mission.


Peer Events connected people with knowledge and community.


Peer Mentor connections.


People were helped to improve their employment skills and prospects.

0 %

SCIO clients would recommend SCIO services.

Numbers are for Fiscal Year April 1 2023 – March 31 2024


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.

SCIO Awards 2023-2024

Community Builder Award

Chantal Benoit

Chantal Benoit

Chantal Benoit is widely recognized as the greatest female wheelchair basketball player in history. She achieved remarkable success over more than two decades with the national team program. As a seven-time Paralympian, Benoit won three gold medals and a bronze. She is also a four-time world champion. Benoit’s dominance on the court earned her the nickname the “Michael Jordan of women’s wheelchair basketball.” Her contributions to the sport and advocacy for inclusivity led to her appointment to the Order of Canada. As well, Benoit received the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation Gold Medal Triad Award for her impact on the sport’s growth. In 2023, Chantal was inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame. Ontario. Her legacy as a player and ambassador continues to inspire athletes and promote inclusivity and excellence.

Reg McLelland

Reg McClelland

Reg spent 20 years on national basketball teams, with a resume comprising six World Championship appearances and four Paralympic Games teams. He founded the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Association in 1994.  Reg is a raconteur, a community leader and an entrepreneur.

In 2002, Reg and Chantal founded 49 Bespoke Inc., which has become one of the most highly regarded specialty wheelchair and accessory companies in Canada. They chose to use the numbers 4 and 9 with the English term for custom made (Bespoke). The significance of the 4 and 9 relate to Reg McClellan’s privilege to have worn the number 4 for over 20 years on the men’s national wheelchair basketball team and an honour that his partner, Chantal Benoit shares having wore the number 9 on the women’s national team for 27 years. 

Never has a company name so accurately reflected the personalities of the two founders and how they have helped build and positively impact the SCI and wider disability community.  For them, it is all about the individual.  The support, encouragement, service and time they spend in the community is all about the individual, every interaction, personal or business, is custom.  They embodied the term ‘bespoke’ before it became cool.

Activist of the Year

luke anderson

Luke Anderson

Luke Anderson has been an instrumental community activist for people with disabilities for almost two decades. Really early on after his spinal cord injury, he has been committed to helping people with disabilities achieve full community participation. He has been a dedicated volunteer to Spinal Cord Injury Ontario for many years, participating in events and knowledge exchange, an active peer supporter, and a major advocate. He always lends his time, energy, and enthusiasm in helping people realize their true potential. He is a class act and a genuine inspiration.   

Luke Anderson is also the co-founder of StopGap Foundation, a very unique organization that raises awareness about the importance of accessibility and inclusion. Over the course of the year, we have been working really closely with Luke to build an accessible housing strategy. Luke has been instrumental in building partnerships, introducing us to decision-makers, and leading the creation of a pan-Canadian network called the Accelerating Accessibility Coalition to address and resolve barriers associated with accessible housing.   

It is with great appreciation that SCIO recognizes Luke Anderson as the 2023-2024 Patty Dawson Activist of the Year.

Sharon & Jim Vigmond Philanthrophy Award

marco ferrera

Marco Ferrera

Marco is the Founder and President of Universal Motion, a company that specializes in wheelchair accessible transportation and adaptive driving equipment. Marco was born in Lagos, Nigeria and attended school in Switzerland and college in Italy. He moved to Canada in 1977. 

Marco served as board member of SCIO from 2004–2006 and again from 2015-2018.  During the later stint, Marco was instrumental in developing a new Fundraising & Marketing Strategy for the organization.

Over 40+ years of engagement with SCIO he has donated significant funds to support our critical services, supports and advocacy for individuals living with an SCI, and used his considerable influence to engage many individuals and companies in his network to also support our work.

Marco shows no sign of slowing down. He recently invested in developing a first-of-its-kind, accessible van that can be easily modified to offer driver assessment, training and vehicle and adaptive equipment prescriptions across Ontario. This service gives people with spinal cord injuries and other mobility disabilities the opportunity to try out adaptive controls before purchasing, a huge benefit when you consider the costs of these devices and the freedom they represent.

Employer of the Year

Toronto Parks, forestry & recreation

Toronto Parks and Recreation –
Adapted Inclusive Department

It is with great pleasure that the Spinal Cord Injury Ontario Employment Services Team wishes to recognize the City of Toronto Parks and Recreation – Adapted Inclusive Department for our 2023 Employer of the Year Award.

During the past year, the Adapted and Inclusive Department hired three candidates from our Employment Services, and throughout the hiring and employment stages, they demonstrated principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion regarding the hiring and employment of people with disabilities. They actively encouraged applicants with disabilities to apply for positions and were accommodating throughout the hiring and employment stages. Accommodations for candidates with communication disabilities were provided during interviews, including demonstrating patience during questioning and providing support staff at interviews. During the onboarding stage, two candidates received advocacy from their managers and other significant City of Toronto staff so that certifications achieved by persons with their physical disabilities were recognized for positions within the Adapted and Inclusive Team.

Throughout their employment, the leadership and staff have taken into consideration the unique needs of the candidates and encouraged the new hires to develop their skills and potential. Staff members eagerly anticipate returning each session because of the positive environment, making the Adapted and Inclusive Department an Employer of choice and a role model for other organizations!

Peer Mentors

2023 - 2024 Peer Mentor Award Winners

Ottawa – Elsa Lalonde

Elsa Lalonde is utmost deserving of the 2023-2024 Peer Mentor Award for her exceptional service delivery hours, consistency in facilitating safe and accessible meeting environments for clients to share their stories, and for providing knowledge, empowerment, and levity to all she serves.

Elsa’s dedication is further exemplified by her reliability in reporting to the Peer Support Coordinator and assisting with English to French translations, allowing for effective program management. Her commitment to the Peer Support Program—exceeding a decade—continues to be an invaluable asset to the Ottawa community, and we are just so lucky to have her on my team! Outside of her volunteer role, Elsa is an accessibility consultant and outdoor enthusiast, where you will her shredding up the latest mountain biking paths on her bowhead.

London – Jacqui Kinahan

Jacqui Kinahan has been a Mentor with SCIO for many years. She is always available when needed for a connection, and always willing to help at any type of event.

Jacqui volunteered her time to help us with our self catheterization series. Not only did she join meetings and provide her input, but she also made a wonderful video showing how she does her self-catheterizations in a public washroom. She also was a guest presenter on our Peer Connections on the same topic and answered many questions from participants.

It is because of Mentors like Jacqui, that we have such a wonderful peer program

Kingston – Tyler Carr

Tyler Carr has been exceptional with meeting new clients and their family members at the Kingston Rehab. He is a father of 2 girls and his wife, Jennie, wrote and published a children’s book about a dad that uses a wheelchair. Tyler attends all Peer Events and he is a member of the SCI Consortium. Tyler is a wonderful representation of the impact and life experience a SCIO Peer Mentor can offer.

Peterborough – Glenn Bugg

Glenn is an enthusiastic new volunteer training to be a Peer Mentor. He is so invested in the program that he took the initiative to raise funds to help us provide peer support in the Peterborough region. Glenn organized a neighbourhood event and got the family out for a 5km walk/roll and solicited donations to help support our work in the area.

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:

$15,000 – $49,999
Coloplast Canada Corp.
Bergeron Clifford LLP

$10,000 – $14,999
Hollister Ltd.
North York Family Health Team
Oatley Vigmond LLP

$5,000 – $9,999
McLeish Orlando LLP
Meridian Credit Union – Courtice
Motion Specialties
Wright Rehabilitation Inc. – Strathroy

$1,000 – $4,999
49 Bespoke Inc.
Atlas Dewatering Corp.
Bartimaeus Rehabilitation Services Inc.
Beacon Utility Contractors Ltd.
Bruce Wilson Landscaping Ltd.
Cedar Infrastructure Products
Compact Constructors Ltd.
Cooper Equipment Rentals
EMCO Waterworks
Functionability Rehabilitation Services Inc. – Toronto
Gerd Hermanns Landscape Contractor Inc.
Humberview Mobility
Invisible Discipline
KUBRA Data Transfer Ltd.
Lerners LLP – London
LiUNA! Local 183
LT Realties Inc.
McKellar Structured Settlements Inc.
Meridian Credit Union – Toronto
Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee
Motion Composites
Ontario Medical Supply Inc.
Pride Mobility Products & Quantum Rehab Canada
Principe Nafekh Ltd.
Providence Care
Raz Design Inc.
Rinker Materials
Robert B. Somerville Co. Ltd.
Rogers Communications Canada Inc.
Royal LePage New Concept
RTI Equipment Solutions
SCI Supply Inc.
Silver Cross Automotive – Toronto
Soloway Wright LLP

The Good Access Company
The MBTW Group
The Shadigee Investment Corp.
Trans Power Utility Contractors Inc.
Universal Motion – Toronto
Western Mechanical Electrical Millwright Services Ltd.
Yorkwood Homes

$500 – $999
Ambler & Co. Inc.
Blue Star Construction Corp.
Brock Aggregates
Burn Tucker Lachaîne PC
Carpenters Local 397
Carroll Heyd Chown LLP
Conval-Aid Inc.
COS Shore Inc.
Gluckstein Lawyers
Harris Law Personal Injury Lawyers
Henderson Structured Settlements LP
Hydrathletics Inc.
Ipex Inc.
John EeK & Son
Lafarge Canada Inc.
Lifemark Health Group
Maglin Site Furniture
Meridian Credit Union – St. Catharines
Rehab First Inc.
Roma Fuels Ltd.
TLC Medical Supply Inc.
Vigurus Technologies Inc.

$250 – $499
Access Solutions
Auger Hollingsworth Professional Corp.
Blake Medical Group
Josh Cain Real Estate
Gananoque Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac
Gananoque Pharmasave
HandiHelp Accessible Innovations
Maple Leaf Wheelchair
Michael McAuley – TD Wealth
Permobil Canada – Lachine
Sean Murphy
National Seating & Mobility
Richard Powers Consulting Inc.
St. Louis Bar & Grill

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario deeply appreciates the support received from these Organizations in support of our Mission:

Federated Health Charities Corp.
The Taylor Family Foundation

Bourassa Savaria Foundation
Fidelity Investments Canada Ltd.
Grey Bruce Paraplegic Association
J.P. Bickell Foundation
Ontario Trillium Foundation

Canadian International AutoShow
Community Foundation for Kingston & Area
Community Foundation of Mississauga
HelpAge Canada
Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation
Rinker Materials
Spinal Cord Injury Canada – National Office
T-Pull Door Closer
Walter J. Blackburn Foundation

AECON Group Inc. – Toronto
AECON Industrial – Cambridge
Coloplast Canada Corp.
Dillon Consulting Ltd. – Hamilton
Dillon Consulting Ltd. – Toronto
Fiera Capital Corp. – Montreal
Invisible Discipline
Kiwanis Club of Ottawa Foundation
Morrisburg & District Lions Club
Oatley Vigmond LLP

49 Bespoke Inc.
AECON Industrial – Pickering
AECON Infrastructure
Army Navy & Air Force Veterans 383
Bird Industrial Construction
Brampton and Caledon Community Foundation
City of Ottawa
Counterpoint Engineering Inc.
Fieldgate Developments
Gould Leasing Ltd.
Humberview Mobility
Kinette Club of Cornwall
Kiwanis Club of Nepean
Lakeshore Rehabilitation Centre – Toronto
Lakeshore Rehabilitation Centre – Mississauga
Lehigh Hanson Materials Ltd.
Lelacheur Family Fund at Edmonton Community Foundation

Lions Club of Orleans
Livingston International Inc. Toronto CFS Department Fundraiser
Livingston International Ltd. (Matching Gift for Toronto CFS Department Fundraiser)
Mammoet Canada Eastern Ltd.
Maple Leaf Consumer Foods Inc.
McLeish Orlando LLP
Neurocore Physiotherapy and Pilates Centre Inc.
Rotary Club of Brampton Heart Lake
Suurdt Properties Ltd.
TC Insurance Adjusters Ltd.
The MBTW Group
The Tonglen Foundation
White Cap Supply Canada Inc.

Able Electric 2016 Ltd.
B & J Contracting
Banks Foundation
Bergin Motion
Black & McDonald Ltd.
Brian Grant Mediation
Ferguson Deacon Taws LLP
Green Infrastructure Partners Inc.
Kingston Frontenacs Hockey Club
Kinsmen Club of Cornwall
Lions Club Of Gloucester
Lions Club of Russell
London Community Foundation
Marny Breithaupt Fund
McFarlan Rowlands Insurance Brokers
Motion Specialties – Toronto Head Office
Orangetheory Peterborough
Remax Unique Inc. Brokerage
Stride Assistance For The Disabled Inc.
UCC Group Inc.

Banyan Software
Eden Dales Social Work and Counselling Services
Harris Law Personal Injury Lawyers
Junction Climbing Centre
NCCO Rehabilitation Services
Pinnacle Logistics Solutions Ltd.
Richmond Advisory Services Inc.
Roma Fuels Ltd.
Royal Canadian Legion – Branch 48 – Morrisburg
The Physio Hub
Volunteer Centre of Toronto
Wright Rehabilitation Inc. – Strathroy

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

Alfred Louis DiLella
Alvise Maso
Anne A. Bullard
Behzad Atrie
Biagio Di Blasio
Bob Pesant
Casper Baas
Christopher Kelly
Clifford D. Barnhart
Danny Krisjanis
Dave McLellan
Dixson Barnhart
Douglas Bice
Edward John Gyurki
Francesca Metcalfe
Gerard Francis O’Malley
Gerard Johannes van Rijn

Gregory Patterson
Helena Wai
Marion Elizabeth Richardson
Marjorie Gloria Francoz
Matthew John Duckworth
Maurice Thornton
Melanie Collum
Nabil Salim El-Nasrallah
Nancy Louise Duncan
Pam Wrigglesworth
Peter Healy
Roy Schultz
Stephanie Nelson Andersen
Sue Soubra Boone
Terry Toulouse
Theresa O’Donovan
W. Kirby Rowe


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