In 1949, desperate to find a cure and protect their children from polio, mothers across Canada, known as the Marching Mothers®, joined in a North America-wide fundraising effort. These dedicated volunteers went door-to-door in their neighbourhoods collecting donations of 'just a dime' to donate to the Canadian Foundation for Poliomyelitics (sic) for research for a cure to polio. The sheer scope of the campaign led entertainer Eddie Cantor to suggest the name 'March of Dimes' based on a popular newsreel of the day called the 'March of Time'. By 1951, the Canadian Foundation for Poliomyelitics was established and granted use of the name 'March of Dimes', by the U.S. March of Dimes. In 1955, after the polio vaccine created by Dr. Jonas Salk proved effective in limited test trials, laboratories rushed to manufacture the vaccine, including Connaught Laboratories (now sanofi pasteur) in Toronto, Canada. Paul Martin Sr., as Minister of Health and Welfare, introduced universal polio immunization to Canada. He and his family supported March of Dimes over the decades. Ontario March of Dimes’ Paul Martin Sr. Society recognizes outstanding donors who have contributed between $5,000.00 and $99,999, and bequests from Mr. and Mrs. Martin helped establish our Paul Martin Sr. Biomedical and Rehabilitation Research Fund.
With the threat of polio greatly diminished, the March of Dimes organization in Canada began funding assistive devices for people who had contracted the virus, with early programs focused primarily on rehabilitation and job training for polio survivors. By the early 1960s, the organization had grown in both size and mandate, shifting considerably to serve the broader needs of all adults with physical disabilities. Prior to 2006, there were various organizations in Canada licensed to conduct 'March of Dimes' programs or fundraise, but since then, March of Dimes Canada has become its own national brand with expanding programs based on the successes of Ontario March of Dimes. This report consolidates financials and program information from March of Dimes Canada and Ontario March of Dimes.
CELEBRATING 60 YEARS: 1951 - 2011
Today, March of Dimes Canada is dedicated to helping children and adults across Canada lead more independent lives. We have more than 14 core programs and services, a Government Relations & Advocacy department and offer research grants and service awards.