East York-area social service agencies merge

Sipping a coffee at the Detroit Eatery on Danforth Avenue, Donald Hobbs shakes his fist in mock fury when told that Baby Boomers are slowly becoming the largest demographic in Canada.

“We’re taking the power back!” the East York resident quips with a laugh. “But honestly, I’m well aware of the facts and I’m happy to live in a community that treats seniors with respect and dignity.”

Hobbs, 65, is referring to the neighbourhood of Toronto-Danforth, one of two Toronto communities that will soon see an improved level of service and care for seniors thanks to the voluntary integration of two industry leaders.

Community Care East York and WoodGreen Community Services are merging to help provide a better standard of service to seniors and those living with disabilities in both the Toronto-Danforth and Beaches-East York communities.

Both camps joined forces for a public meeting to address the community at the York Reception Centre on Sept. 13.

CCEY Executive Director Barbara Nytko looks to the future for inspiration in the joint venture.

“We see a new reality in which the growing demand for services and care needs to be met,” she said. “We need to use innovative ideas and solutions to address those demands.”

Nytko is also quick to point out that although changes are afoot, the level of both groups’ service and quality standards will remain the same.

“I’m actually really excited that even though this integration will allow us to broaden our scope, our clients won’t see a change on the front lines,” she said. “The same people will be administrating their care and delivering their meals. It’s that kind of relationship that we’re proud of.”

WoodGreen Community Care Services President and CEO Brian Smith shares Nytko’s excitement. For him, it is a merger necessitated by the current healthcare climate.

“It’s a real challenge to find funding,” he says. “This integration will allow our clients to live in their community without fear of service cuts or interruptions. We want to keep people happy, healthy and in the community.”

Over the following months, the two organizations will undergo the practice of due diligence to examine all aspects of the venture before submitting a formal proposal to the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network. If all goes according to plan, both companies will operate under the name WoodGreen Community Services in the new year.

As for Donald Hobbs, he’s happy to hear there are some mergers taking place that are routed in providing quality service for his fellow Baby Boomers.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” he says. “Helping people live independently is a service that doesn’t have a price tag. If this means that more people will have that opportunity, I’m all for it.”