Ronald McDonald House Toronto

To provide a ‘home away from home’ for seriously ill children and their families to heal better together.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Opened: 1981 - Canada’s 1st Ronald McDonald House® Opens in Toronto, Ontario

The 1st Canadian Ronald McDonald House opens in Toronto, Ontario. This first of its kind

House opened its doors with 19 bedrooms, serving the families of children receiving treatment at the

Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids).

1981: Ronald McDonald House® Toronto expands and relocates in Toronto, Ontario

Ronald McDonald House Toronto expands and relocates to Gerrard Street adding 9 new bedrooms.

This House offered 28 comfortably furnished family bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, a kitchen and dining area, common family room, playroom and laundry facilities.

Sept. 2003: Ronald McDonald House Toronto School opens in Toronto, Ontario

In September 2003, the Ronald McDonald House Toronto School opened in response to an increase in long-term stays of families at the House. Located within Ronald McDonald House Toronto, the school offers seriously ill children and their siblings the opportunity to attend class just as they do at home.

Nov. 2011: The New Ronald McDonald House® Toronto – The Largest House in the World Opens

In response to increasing demand, a new Ronald McDonald House Toronto opened in November 2011. With 96 bedrooms including 15 two bedroom suites, the House is able to serve 81 families. Ronald McDonald House Toronto is now the largest House in the world.

Dec. 2011: Prime Minister Stephen Harper Visits Ronald McDonald House® Toronto

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, paid a visit to Ronald McDonald House Toronto, marking the first Canadian Prime Minister to visit a Ronald McDonald House.

April 2012: Canada’s 5th Ronald McDonald Family Room® opens in Mississauga, Ontario

Ronald McDonald House® Toronto opens the Greater Toronto Area’s first Ronald McDonald Family Room.

Located at the Credit Valley site of The Credit Valley Hospital and Trillium Health Centre, just steps away from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Family Room offers families a warm oasis of support within the walls of the hospital.

Independently owned and operated and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, Ronald McDonald House Toronto is a charity that relies on donations from corporations, foundations and individuals and the help of volunteers to keep its doors open.

It costs $125 to accommodate one family for one night at the House, however, families are asked to contribute just $15 per night. The difference is made up through the generosity of donors. 

Accolades and Accomplishments

Since opening in 1981, Ronald McDonald House Toronto has expanded its mandate from serving children with cancer to supporting all seriously ill children and their families.

In November 2011, a new Ronald McDonald House Toronto opened on McCaul Street.  It is the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world at 100,000 sq ft.

The new House can accommodate 81 families per night --- three times the number of families as the previous House on Gerrard Street which was equipped to serve 28 families per night.

On an annual basis, the new House provides almost 30,000 family nights of comfort, compared to 9,569 family nights of comfort at the previous House.

In 2004, the House marked an incredible milestone opening RMH Toronto School --- the only on-site private school in a House in Canada.

RMH Toronto School is recognized by Ontario's Ministry of Education and offers instruction to children and siblings staying at the House from JK to Grade 12.

Our Programs How We Do It

Ronald McDonald House Toronto can accommodate 81 families per night.  Each of its 96 bedrooms is fully-furnished with a private bathroom. Families also have access to a common kitchen, dining area, family room, playroom, and free laundry facilities.

Although the cost of accommodating a family for a single night is $125, families are asked to contribute just $15 a night.  The difference is made up through the generosity of our donors.

Much more than a place to stay, Ronald McDonald House Toronto provides a place of healing comfort to support families as they cope with their child's medical crisis. 

The House offers several support programs and services including: free laun­dry and kitchen facilities, an on-site private school, the Home for Dinner Program, Pets At Work (PAWS) Program, as well as Arts, Play and Child Life Programs.

Designed to rejeuvenate the spirit as well as the body, our specialized programs let children fill their days with ordinary, enjoyable activities, while also giving families the chance to engage in the familiarity of routines while spending quality time together.

In 2012, Ronald McDonald House Toronto opened its first RMH Toronto Family Room, which provides parents of seriously ill babies and children with a "home away from home" within the walls of a hospital.  

It is built on a partnership between the local hosting hospital and Ronald McDonald House Toronto.

The Family Room is a welcoming environment for families to retreat, rest and heal better together within the hospital, while being just steps away from their seriously ill child.

Family Rooms provide:

  • A soothing place of comfort for out-of-town and local families of seriously ill children.
  • A medical-free space where families can wait or stay while their child receives life-saving medical treatment in hospital.
  • Allows parents to better communicate with their child’s medical team and improves adherence to complicated treatment plans.

Family Room features:

A private room with the comforts of home including: 

Kitchenette

lounge area with television

individual sleeping rooms

bathroom with shower facility

The first RMH Toronto Family Room in the Greater Toronto Area opened at The Credit Valley Hospital of the Trillium Health Partners in 2012. The second RMH Toronto Family Room opened at Markham Stouffville Hospital in 2013. 

Family Rooms are operated by RMH Toronto staff and volunteers.

Ronald McDonald House School

Recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Education, RMH Toronto School was opened in 2004 and serves children from JK to Grade 12. The school follows the provincial curriculum and allows children and their siblings staying at the House to continue learning and maintain their academic standing during treatment.

RMH Toronto School is the only on-site private school at a House in Canada. It features a classroom with a learning environment that is purpose-built to accommodate students with special needs. 

The classroom has distinct areas for learning including:

- Computer lab for lessons in technology, and independent study

- Art area

- Carpet space for class meetings

- Quiet, private space for studying

- Outdoor space for students to have recess, physical education and environmental awareness lessons on a daily basis. 

Program Impact

The School is important for both patients and siblings for a variety of reasons:

- Attending class provides a sense of normalcy for children during a very difficult and unpredictable time.

- It helps children maintain academic standing throughout treatment so they don’t fall behind while undergoing care in Toronto.

- Our teacher facilitates reintegration into home schools.

- The classroom is a safe environment for children to talk about their emotions and make social connections with other kids in similar situations.

- School gives students an alternative focus to their illness during a traumatic time.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"The 2008 health profile of Toronto residents (12 years old and over) reveals that just over half (57%) perceive themselves to be in very good or excellent health, (compared to 61% in 2007), and 12.8% are in fair or poor health."

The School at Ronald McDonald House Toronto targets its efforts at children who are seriously ill and unable to attend educational institutions in their own communities. By offering these services, Ronald McDonald House Toronto is providing a sense of normalcy and structure for children and families as they go through one of the most difficult periods of their lives.

Participant Vignette

Jennifer can’t help it.  Her eyes flood with tears when she thinks about the impact Ronald McDonald House Toronto School has had on her 14-year-old daughter. “If we didn’t have the School, Rebecca would have totally lost her Grade 9 year,” says Jennifer. Rebecca and her mom arrived at Ronald McDonald House Toronto in October, 2011 from their home town of Pictou, Nova Scotia. The teen is on a waiting list for a heart transplant, and doctors have said the wait could be anywhere from four to six months – perhaps even longer – before a donor match is found.

The teen was enrolled in school shortly after the family began staying at the House. Because of her health issues, which began from a young age, Rebecca had experienced many challenges at her home school – with teachers and fellow students alike.

“But the teacher here understands what kind of learner I am and she explains things in words I understand,” says Rebecca. “She makes it a lot easier than if I was back home in public school, where there are 30 kids and you can’t get that one-on-one feeling.”

Recognized by the Ministry of Education, Ronald McDonald House Toronto School is the only private school in a House in Canada. It allows seriously ill children, who are staying at the House while receiving life-saving medical treatment, to maintain their academic standing. The School is also open to siblings. 

“Rebecca has moved up five grades in Math,” says Katie Doering, a teacher at the School. “That is an incredible achievement and one that would be impossible without our ability to provide individualized programming here at RMH Toronto School.” 

Rebecca is achieving A’s in every high school credit she is enrolled in, and the Honour Roll is well within her reach. “The School has helped me in so many ways,” says Rebecca. “Never in a million years – in my wildest dreams – did I imagine I could get a 97 in Science!”

Rebecca and her mom also appreciate the absence of negative peer pressure at the RMH Toronto School. “Everybody is here for the same reason – because they themselves or someone in their family is sick,” says Jennifer. “Over the years, kids would make fun of Rebecca or bully her. But not here.”

“Socially, Rebecca has made important strides,” says her teacher. “At the beginning of the year, she rarely joined in during recess time, was unable to complete group work without major altercations, and befriended students five to six grades younger than her. Now, Rebecca suggests games for recess and leads the activities, completes group work with joy and excitement, and has made strong friendships with students in Grades Seven through 10.”

“This school has helped my daughter both academically and in building her confidence – two things that go hand in hand,” says Gillis. “The teachers are just the best. They’re amazing.”

As she wipes away her tears, Jennifer looks at Rebecca: “Because this House exists, my daughter didn’t have to put her education on hold for medical reasons.”  Rebecca simply looks up and says, “Thank you.”

Child Life Program

The Child Life Program helps children and parents communicate their feelings, concerns and worries both freely and safely. The use of artistic materials, creative methods, music, performance and play provide a soothing way for families to express themselves.

By using medical dolls/puppets and standard medical equipment such as syringes during activities, children become more comfortable with and less fearful of different procedures and treatments they face at the hospital.

Program Impact

The program impacts entire families, offering support and coping skills to siblings and parents while utilizing therapeutic play to reduce stress and aid in emotional expression.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

The 2008 health profile of Toronto residents (12 years old and over) reveals that one quarter (25.5%) are sometimes or often limited from participation in activities by disability or illness."(Toronto's Vital Signs®, 2009)

Ronald McDonald House Toronto provides seriously ill children and their families, resources and programs to cope with their health care experiences. By offering these services, Ronald McDonald House Toronto is providing a sense of normalcy and structure for children and families as they go through one of the most difficult periods of their lives.

Participant Vignette

Meet Morgan. She knows, and lives the importance of having a warm, supportive place for her and her mom, Geri-Ann, to stay at when she needs medical treatment in Toronto. Morgan was just two-and-a-half years old when her parents found out she had FSGS Neuphrotic Syndrome, a disease in which the kidneys are damaged and leak large amounts of protein. Morgan needed a kidney transplant. But, as doctors explained, the disease would return, and she would most likely need other transplants in the future.

Morgan had her first kidney transplant when she was five-years-old. Now 12, she has stayed with her mom at Ronald McDonald House Toronto (RMH Toronto) seven times – for three to six months each visit. Spending so many birthdays, Christmases and holidays at the House; RMH Toronto really is their second home.

While at RMH Toronto, Morgan enjoyed slumber parties with new friends and keeping in touch with old friends back home through the wireless internet offered at the House. She was actively involved in the Child Life Program and found joy in the opportunity to do what kids do best – play and have fun.

Home for Dinner

Imagine a long day at the hospital with your seriously ill child --- you are exhausted and worn out by stress and worry. Think about how much you would appreciate coming back to the comfort of a home-cooked meal in the company of a special community of caring families.

Ronald McDonald House Toronto provides out-of-town families with a "home away from home" while their seriously ill children receive life-saving medical treatment at local hospitals. The heart of our House is the kitchen. It’s where families come together, stories are shared and friendships blossom. We all have a unique opportunity to bring families healing comfort and support --- by preparing a meal to brighten their day.

The Home for Dinner Program invites groups to prepare a meal in the House kitchen for families staying under our roof.

Program Impact

Providing a ‘home away from home’ gives children and families a sense of normalcy in the most frightening time of their lives. Ronald McDonald House Toronto is a place for families to heal better together.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"The 2008 health profile of Toronto residents (12 years old and over) reveals that one quarter (25.5%) are sometimes or often limited from participation in activities by disability or illness."(Toronto's Vital Signs®, 2009)

 Ronald McDonald House Toronto offers support services to our children and families in an attempt to make life just a little bit easier. The simple things make a big difference. A home-cooked meal, borrowing a car and access to email help provide a “home away from home”.

Participant Vignette

Meet Kaleigh. When Echo and Jewell’s baby girl, Kaleigh, was born she had Gastroschisis -- a hole in her abdominal wall causing her bowels to be exposed and she was in critical condition. She needed treatment in Toronto immediately. So new to parenthood and sick with worry, Echo and Jewell left their families, friends and hometown in Nova Scotia behind as they travelled over 1700 km to get the right care for their new baby.

Feeling alone and lost, they were relieved to find Ronald McDonald House Toronto. Having a safe, warm place to stay meant they could concentrate on what mattered most – providing the love and support for their little girl. Many anxious days were spent at the hospital, awaiting news on Kaleigh’s health, but they were able to find comfort and support in the community of families at the House.

What You Can Do

Ronald McDonald House School

Activities a donation will support

RMH Toronto is more than just a place for families to stay. It is a place for families to heal. The House provides the simple comforts of home that put joy and normalcy back into a family’s life. Sitting down to a home-cooked dinner together, courtesy of dedicated volunteers. Waking up together, under one roof, ready to face the tough day ahead. Laughing and playing together. Ronald McDonald House Toronto truly is a place for families to heal better. A grant will provide the necessary resources and simple comforts that allow a family to heal better together.

Donation impact

By contributing to RMH Toronto you provide more than just a place for families to lay their heads during what is often the most frightening time of their life. RMH Toronto is somewhere where families and their children can continue the familiar routines of home life, despite their traumatic situations. We provide an atmosphere of compassion and understanding in a stressful and frightening time.

Child Life Program

Activities a donation will support

What can you build with popsicle sticks, paint, wood and feathers? Confidence. Resilience. Coping skills. Not to mention the ability to connect with bottled-up feelings. Funds provide these necessary resources to help a child understand and cope with their health experience ultimately helping families heal better.

Donation impact

The Child Life Program helps children understand and cope with their health care experience. The use of medical dolls and standard medical equipment such as syringes during activities helps children become more comfortable with and less fearful of different procedures and treatments they face at the hospital. The program is for entire families, offering support and coping skills to siblings and parents and utilizing therapeutic play to reduce stress and aid in emotional expression.

Home for Dinner

Activities a donation will support

A grant will provide the simple necessities that make a house a home. Providing resources for home-cooked meals, a warm bed and comfortable common rooms are what support a family through what is often the most difficult time of their lives.

Donation impact

Families who stay at Ronald McDonald House Toronto are always so grateful for a compassionate, comfortable environment that they can call home while their seriously ill child is enduring treatment or surgery for a life threatening illness.

Contact

Judy MacGowan
Director of Development CFRE
416.977.1346
Charitable Number: 118852631RR0001

Finance & Governance

Connect

Join the Conversation

community