Every year, an estimated 1.2 million Canadian families1 face the reality of what it means to have a sick child in Canada who requires hospital treatment.

Time away from work, burdens of long-distance travel, and unexpected financial costs are some of the challenges that make up the harsh reality for the estimated 55,000 families1 each year that must travel more than 100+km to access the health care their seriously ill child needs.

The geography of Canada does these families a disservice. With just 16 specialty children’s hospitals serving our entire country, the top experts for any given condition are often unavailable in a family's local community, meaning travel for hospital treatment is necessary. 

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We need to expand and build more Ronald McDonald Houses to support families that need to travel for health care, but can’t do it alone.  
 
We are asking the Federal Government to invest in this critical social and community infrastructure, so families with a seriously ill child can have the support they need to access Canada’s paediatric health care system.  

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Bedard Family
Aiyegbusi Family, 42 nights at RMHC Alberta
Gauthier Family
The Bjurstom Family, 41 nights at RMHC Toronto
Hilt Family
The Hilt Family, 42 nights at RMHC Saskatchewan

See where our families come from 

For 40 years, RMHC has been there for Canadian families who must travel to access their sick child’s medical treatment by providing low or no-cost accommodations to sleep, eat, recharge, be together, and receive community support. Ultimately, enabling families to stay together and be close to the hospital, and their sick child.   
 
Click here to see how RMHC is helping families from your community. 

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Costsavings Map

RMHC helps families save thousands of dollars each year 

We have helped Canadian families save $48.3 million2 in just one year, and together, we can do even  more. 

See the savings across Canada

We are not able to help every Canadian family in need. Help us, help families stay close. 


Families we support today

Before COVID-19, a family arrived on RMHC's doorstep every 20 minutes. Through Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada, we support 10,000 families, annually.

Sadly, we are forced to turn away more families than we serve.

Families in need of our support  

Yearly, 3,000 families never move past our waitlists, with an estimated 45,000 families left to fend for themselves.  

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The need to grow

Today, we are meeting just 20% of the estimated demand for RMHC’s support and services in this country. 

The devastating financial, social, and emotional cost of keeping families together and close to the health care their child needs undermine fair and equitable access to health care in our country.   

While Canada’s health care system is second-to-none, families with sick children who must travel for health care, are left to cover transportation, accommodation and other expenses necessary to be where they are needed most – by the side of their sick child.  

It can cost up to $38,000 per year2 to be by the side of a sick child. 

Regionally, the cost to stay close to your sick child ranges across the country:

  • Up to $7,0003 in out-of-pocket expenses in Montreal
  • Up to $10,0004 in out-of-pocket expenses in Ottawa
  • Up to $15,0005 in out-of-pocket expenses in Vancouver
  • Up to $38,0006 in out-of-pocket expenses in Toronto

Incurring unexpected expenses such as accommodation, transportation, parking, and food often creates emotional stress and an immense financial burden. This debt can take up to 19 years for families to pay back. 

A child facing illness shouldn’t lead to a family facing bankruptcy.  

This is compounded by the fact that these families often experience interrupted or lost employment due to the travel needed to be with their sick child. 94% of moms and 72% of dads have reported reduced or lost employment7, risking future income, financial stability, and retirement savings. 

The McDonnell Family, RMHC Southwestern Ontario

 

The impact of a child’s illness goes beyond the child.

Because when a child is not okay, their parents aren’t okay either. The emotional and psychological toll of a child's illness deeply affects parents, children, and the whole family unit.

Parents are 75% more likely to have depression and 40% more likely to have anxiety than parents of children without a chronic condition8.

Help us build bigger Houses for vulnerable Canadian families.  

To achieve fair and equitable access to health care in our country, it is our shared responsibility to invest in keeping families together and close to the health care their child needs.  

RMHC is making plans to expand existing Houses and build new ones. Over the next five years, our goal is to nearly double the number of bedrooms available, and help even more families stay close to their sick child in hospital.   

Fundraising dollars and corporate donations alone are not enough. The Federal Government’s investment in social infrastructure that supports Canadian families is essential to building healthy and resilient communities. 

RMHC is asking the federal government to contribute $1 of every $3 in infrastructure dollars raised – $75 million over five years.  

This investment will allow RMHC to grow from  522 bedrooms to 932+ bedrooms, equaling over $52.9 million in additional annual family savings and 141,583 nights of accommodation each year.  

RMHC Manitoba, preparing for expansion
Smith family image

A sick child's family should always have a place to call home.

Together, we can support even more Canadian families with sick children across our communities. 

Will you join us? 

Contact us to learn how you can fill this critical gap in Canada’s social infrastructure

Contact us

Sources:

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.

22019 RBC Economic Impact Study. $38,000 is based on out-of-pocket expenses for a family of 5. Includes two hospital stays of 30 days each in Toronto. The average length of stay at RMHC Toronto is 30 days.

32019 RBC Economic Impact Study. Out-of-pocket expenses for a family of 5. Includes two hospital stays of 6 days in Montreal. The average length of stay at RMHC Montreal is 6 days.

42019 RBC Economic Impact Study. Out-of-pocket expenses for a family of 5. Includes two hospital stays of 8 days each in Ottawa. The average length of stay at RMHC Ottawa is 8 days.

52019 RBC Economic Impact Study. Out-of-pocket expenses for a family of 5. Includes two hospital stays of 12 days each in Vancouver. The average length of stay at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver is 12 days.

62019 RBC Economic Impact Study. Out-of-pocket expenses for a family of 5. Includes two hospital stays of 30 days each in Toronto. The average length of stay at RMHC Toronto is 30 days.

7Argerie Tsimicalis, Costs Incurred By Families of Children Newly Diagnosed with Cancer in Ontario, A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing University of Toronto, 2010

8Health Outcomes of Parents of Children with Chronic Illness, Cohn et al., 2020