June 15, 2021

Ronald McDonald House Charities® plans to double the number of current bedrooms across Canada in response to growing need

Boy and girl children hugging

Announcements of new and expanded Ronald McDonald Houses in Halifax and Winnipeg took place earlier this year

TORONTO – March 30, 2021 – Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) is planning to nearly double the number of bedrooms at Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada, adding an estimated 410 new bedrooms, marking an exciting next wave of growth in support of families with sick children.

“For 40 years in Canada, it has been humbling to know that more than 425,000 families have received the comfort and support of RMHC when the unimaginable happens,” said Cathy Loblaw, CEO of RMHC Canada. “This next wave of growth will help ensure that we can be there for even more families in need of our support, as we continue to live into our mission of keeping families close® – close to each other, and close to the health care their sick child needs.”

Recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows that the need for RMHC services far outweighs its current capacity. Today, RMHC across Canada is only able to meet 20% of the estimated demand for its support and services in this country, demonstrating the need to expand and build more Ronald McDonald Houses.

Prior to COVID-19, there were an estimated 1.2 million families with a child requiring hospital treatment each year. Of these, an estimated 55,000 families had a seriously ill child and travelled more than 100 kilometres to access health care. 1 Today, Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada are only able to serve 10,000 families, meaning that up to 45,000 families are left without the support provided by RMHC.

“With only 16 specialized children’s hospitals serving the entire country, RMHC exists to enable access to Canada’s paediatric health care system for families living outside of a major city with a children’s hospital,” said Karima Karmali, Vice Chair, RMHC Canada Board of Directors and Director of the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Child and Family-Centred Care at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. “RMHC is a significant partner in supporting both family-centred care and the broader health care system in Canada, partnering with children’s hospitals to help fill a gap in services that hospitals otherwise can’t.”

Today also marks the launch of the organization’s newest brand campaign Family is Medicine, helping Canadians understand the important role that family plays in a child’s treatment journey, and how RMHC supports families across its Houses each and every day.

The campaign video is inspired by real family moments at Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada including:

  • Goodnight by Flashlight
    While Luke was receiving treatment for leukemia, his hospital room faced RMHC Southwestern Ontario’s London House, directly across the street from the Hospital. Each night before bed, Luke and the RMHC staff would say goodnight in morse code from their windows as a way to stay connected and know that Luke was doing okay. 

  • Happy Birthday Weelo!
    When Weelo was born he spent the first year of his life in medical care at the children’s hospital in Newfoundland. As his first birthday approached, he unfortunately could not be discharged from the hospital. Luckily, Weelo was granted a day pass to RMHC Newfoundland & Labrador, where the staff, and mom Audrey, threw Weelo a first birthday party!

Baby Weelo sitting on the floor smiling
  • Tate Learns to play Baseball
    At RMHC Saskatchewan, the Argue family, whose daughter Reese was born 9 weeks premature, stayed at the House as a full family unit, including with her older brother Tate. It was during this time that Tate learned to play baseball in the outdoor garden with grandpa!


Today, one in four Canadian families have either stayed at a Ronald McDonald House® or Ronald McDonald Family Room® or know someone who has2

RMHC across Canada kept its doors open to families throughout 2020 as an essential service, continuing to provide compassionate support to more than 11,500 families through its network of programs across the country

With the addition of 410 new bedrooms, RMHC across Canada will grow from 522 bedrooms to 932 through a capital investment of over $244 million

A recent RBC study reported that RMHC programs save Canadian families over $48 million per year in unexpected costs related to their child’s illness such as travel, accommodation and food costs. By nearly doubling capacity at RMHC, family savings will increase by an additional $52M a year – saving Canadian families $100 million a year in out-of-pocket expenses!3

Canadians wishing to donate to RMHC in their community can do so by visiting rmhccanada.ca/donate


1Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database (DAD). Canadian Institute for Health Information National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS). 2018. Includes estimations for inpatients for the province of Quebec. Includes estimation for outpatients for all of Canada based on NACRS Alberta outpatient data.

2 2020: Cause Marketing During Covid-19, Ipsos

3 RBC Economic Impact Study, 2019