I’ve spent over 30 years in academic and large healthcare organizations leading health system transformation and driving a coordinated approach across systems. This includes leading operations during crisis, outbreak and organizational restructuring. During this time, I’ve seen many changes and advances in our healthcare system and worked with some of the best and brightest individuals. That said, I have never felt more empowered and impactful than I do today as CEO of Safehaven.

Serving one of the most vulnerable populations in Ontario, the Safehaven Project for Community Living provides exactly that – a safe haven for children and youth with multiple disabilities and severely complex medical needs – needs so multifaceted their families and caregivers are unable to support them at home. For many, Safehaven is the only help they can count on day after day.

The system of support for these families is sparse and fractured. Required clinical interventions, social isolation and increasingly scarce resources are debilitating for so many children, families and caregivers across the province.

·        At last count, 14,402 individuals with developmental disabilities were on the waitlist for any type of support

·        Parents of children with complex health conditions or disabilities may expect to pay between 2.5 and 20 times the amount in medical costs alone

·        Children and youth with medical complexities are the highest users of the healthcare system. The small group of children accounts for one-third (1/3) of child health provincial spending.

·        Having a child with complex medical needs changes the lives of those around them – siblings, parents and extended families.

Now more than ever, we need everyone’s support to spread the word and join the movement because the needs of these exceptional children don’t end the moment they legally become an adult. Today, there is a serious lack of support for children and the service gap becomes untenable once they turn eighteen years old. Expanded respite and residential services are critical for individuals living with complex medical needs. The lack of resources leaves many families feeling like they are “falling off a cliff” the minute their children transition into adulthood.

At Safehaven, we believe that as a system, we can do better. For over 25 years, our holistic, inclusive client and family-centred model leverages best in class clinical and psychological support while encouraging healing, exploration and empowerment through the magic of arts-based therapy and community connection. Working with partners, we seek to provide a seamless, coordinated transition of care from childhood through to adulthood because after all, everyone deserves to live an exceptional life.

We can do more. We can help more.

Through our model, we will internally leverage best practices and standards of care as well as collaborative, multi-sectoral approaches that focus around each individual’s unique needs. We plan to build an effective, efficient, state-of-the-art facility that will allow us to expand our respite and residential services. By continuing to provide these life-altering interventions into our clients’ adult years, we will ensure individuals receive exceptional supports their entire lives because they themselves, are exceptional.

At Safehaven, we see miracles happen every day. Through effective partnerships and mobilization, Safehaven will be able to increase its reach and support an additional 100 exceptional individuals to thrive in inclusive environments and spaces who need care.

Want to learn more? Join us on May 2nd, 2019 at Safehaven’s inaugural Illumination event .

Want to change lives? Get Involved Today.


Susan Bisaillon
Chief Executive Officer, The Safehaven Project for Community Living