Toronto

Mississauga-based real estate company donates $75M to improve health care in Scarborough

A Mississauga-based real estate company has donated $75 million to the Scarborough Health Network and the University of Toronto to improve health care in the eastern Greater Toronto Area, officials said on Wednesday.

$50M to go to Scarborough Health Network, $25M to U of T, Orlando Corporation says

Blair Wolk, president of the Orlando Corporation, says: 'Our philanthropic mission is to support organizations where the result is better patient care, more efficient health-care services and world class facilities. This community needs corporate support to make these projects viable.' (CBC)

A Mississauga-based real estate company announced on Wednesday it has donated $75 million to improve health care in the eastern Greater Toronto Area.

Orlando Corporation, which defines itself as Canada's largest privately-owned industrial real estate developer and landlord, has given $50 million to the Scarborough Health Network (SHN) and $25 million to the University of Toronto. The money is intended to improve health infrastructure, clinical programs and medical education, according to SHN and the university.

The company announced the "historic and transformational" donation at a news conference at Centenary Hospital in Scarborough on Wednesday afternoon. 

"Orlando Corporation has a long history of supporting community health care," Blair Wolk, the corporation's president, told the news conference.

Wolk said $15 million of the $50 million going to SHN and $10 million of the $25 million earmarked for the university are in the form of a pledge by the company, which will match donations dollar for dollar from the community up to a total of $25 million.

"We have found that these types of gifts provide the greatest opportunity for community members, be it corporate, families or individuals, to come together for the good of the collective," he said.

Wolk said the company doesn't own any buildings in Scarborough but it believes health care is a shared responsibility that "can't be funded through good intentions alone" and the community will put the donation to good use.

"Our philanthropic mission is to support organizations where the result is better patient care, more efficient health care services and world-class facilities," he said. "This community needs corporate support to make these projects viable."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says: 'We have to deliver great publicly funded health care with the collaboration of the experts.' (CBC)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who also spoke at the news conference, said Scarborough was a "forgotten city for decades under previous governments" but he has pledged never to forget it. He said the donation will make a difference to the delivery of health care in Scarborough, Toronto's easternmost district.

"We're going to continue pouring money into health care, but we have to be creative. We can't continue doing the same thing, the status quo, and expect a different result," Ford said. 

"What I'm hearing is, we have to deliver great publicly funded — I'm going to repeat that, publicly funded — health care, just in a different method, different fashion, and that what we're going to continue doing, with the collaboration and co-operation of the experts.".

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones and Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop were also at the announcement.

Donation contributes to 2 fundraising campaigns

According to the SHN, $25 million will be used to renovate and expand Birchmount Hospital, including the addition of a new patient tower for critical care, and $10 million will be used to create the Orlando Corporation Mental Health Centre of Excellence.

The remaining $15 million will support "areas of greatest needs" across SHN hospitals. The hospital network said the donation is the largest in its history.

According to the university, the $25 million will be used to build Scarborough Academy of Medicine and Integrated Health (SAMIH) at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

The academy will train 1,520 students a year, including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and life sciences students.

The donation contributes to the "Love, Scarborough" campaign, which highlights health-care inequities in Scarborough, and the "Defy Gravity" campaign, which is a U of T fundraising effort involving alumni and is aimed at addressing urgent issues.

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