Even though we invest a lot of time planning our personal and professional careers, we must have the humility to recognize that chance often plays a major role. From one’s family environment, to a teacher who makes a difference or a company boss who agrees to give us a job, every act and every fortuitous encounter has a number of consequences that significantly affect a person's life.
My involvement with the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation came about precisely under such circumstances. I knew a little about the CHU Sainte-Justine before joining the Foundation’s board of directors in 2009. I had the good fortune to have four of my children born there. My youngest even had surgery at Sainte-Justine to correct a heart defect when he was only four months old. I lived near the hospital and had visited its emergency rooms with my babies several times before. However, I wasn’t familiar with the Foundation. But a call from Pierre Boivin, the then Chairman of the Board of Directors, changed everything!
The world of philanthropy has evolved enormously in Quebec, especially in relation to hospitals. In the past 20 years, considerable sums have been raised by various hospital foundations to support research projects or equipment purchases.
Medicine is evolving faster than ever. While various levels of governments contribute to the collective effort to ensure that our health institutions keep pace, the state must act prudently with taxpayers' dollars—it cannot commit all the desired funds to health. Hence the growing importance of the philanthropic sector.
The love Quebecers feel for Sainte-Justine is unrivalled.
The major Healing More Better campaign, which wrapped up in 2016, will have generated more than $255 million in donations! Quebecers know that the quality of care provided at Sainte-Justine is incomparable.
The era of shopping abroad for better doctors or procedures are over. We are proud that in the Quebec of today, we can boast a mother-child centre that would be the envy of any community in North America. Nevertheless, it needs nurturing and all the financial oxygen necessary to allow it to continue to rank among the top performers.
During my nine years on the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation’s Board of Directors, including the last six when I served as Chairman, I had the opportunity to visit the hospital several times, often with potential donors. I always had the same impression: I was visiting an exceptional place, a place where excellence and the desire to excel coexist.
The inauguration of the new buildings in December 2016 was undoubtedly the highlight of my involvement with the Foundation. It was becoming particularly difficult, if not impossible, for Sainte-Justine to adhere to its mission of excellence without being able to count on new operating rooms, a greater number of neonatal beds, etc.
We also needed a high-performance research centre that would allow us to recruit top pediatric researchers. When so many families rely on an institution to care for their children, and to care for them better, it must be given all the tools it needs to do so.
I will always remember the explosion of joy that erupted in the room—especially from the doctors, researchers and nurses. They’d just received a 35-goal-a-year first line forward. And he had a no-trade clause!
In philanthropy, all causes are worthy. I am moved to see so many Quebecers get involved in their community. My good luck continued at the Foundation when I found a great team filled with a sense of "YES"! There’s nothing they can’t do. For them, the word "failure" does not exist. An obstacle is just another opportunity to be creative. I am convinced that this team has no equal in philanthropy in Canada .
I therefore hand over the reins of our Board to Jacynthe Côté, a mother, a philanthropist and a woman involved in the Canadian business community. As lucky as I was that Pierre Boivin recruited me to join the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation in 2009, I am as lucky today that Jacynthe has agreed to succeed me. I thank her warmly.
As a youngster, my mother opened my eyes to unfairness and injustice. There are all kinds in our society, but those having to do with sickness, especially in children, affect me most. I have seen more courage in the corridors of Sainte-Justine than I will for the rest of my life.
I leave the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation with tears in my eyes... but with hope in my heart!
The Honourable Michael M. Fortier, PC
Chairman of the Board of Directors (2012-2018)
CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation