John Allan (Allan) Slaight was a passionate philanthropist, committed to improving the lives of Canadians across many sectors – from innovations in health care to supporting arts and culture. Across two decades, the Gattuso Slaight family has donated more than $70 million to a wide variety of programs at University Health Network and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, including the Gattuso Slaight Personalized Cancer Medicine Fund, the Slaight Family Foundation Mental Health in Medicine Clinic Fund and the Campaign to Cure Arthritis.
In 2013, Allan and his wife Emmanuelle Gattuso committed $50 million to establish the Gattuso Slaight Personalized Cancer Medicine Fund, which enabled the cancer centre to recruit a group of bright early-career scientists to establish their research programs at The Princess Margaret. Many of these scientists quickly became recognized leaders in their respective fields, such as Drs. Daniel De Carvalho and Scott Bratman, who co-developed a minimally invasive blood test that can detect cancers in its earliest stages.
That same year, The Slaight Family Foundation established the Slaight Family Centre for Advanced MRI, providing UHN researchers with the tools to improve early detection, diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as dementia, arthritis and spinal cord injuries. In 2019, The Slaight Family Foundation announced a $30-million gift to a number of hospitals across Toronto to transform seniors’ care, with $3 million to support initiatives across UHN. This included support for the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy, which provides opportunities for seniors with dementia to express themselves through art, creativity and movement, as well as supporting their caregivers. This gift also supported UHN’s OpenLab initiative to transform high-rise apartment buildings into naturally occurring retirement communities, launched the Geriatric Community Integration Hub to be a single point of access to services for patients after they leave the hospital, and enhanced cancer care for older adults through the Geriatric Oncology Program at The Princess Margaret.
As the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on mental health, The Slaight Family Foundation committed another $30 million to support mental health services across Canada, including $1 million to support the Mental Health in Medicine Clinic at UHN. The Clinic integrates mental and physical health, providing patients access to experts who specialize in managing mental health conditions alongside complex physical conditions and help connect them with community health partners.
“UHN Foundation is deeply saddened by the passing of Allan Slaight. He was a true and supportive partner for many organizations and helped turned big ideas into meaningful advancements for Canadians,” says Tennys Hanson, CEO, UHN Foundation.
Dr. Miyo Yamashita, President & CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation adds that “we are eternally grateful to Allan and his wife Emmanuelle, whose philanthropic contributions to The Princess Margaret and UHN have helped change the course of cancer research and care in Canada, improving the quality of life of patients and their families – today and for generations to come.”
Allan’s wife, Emmanuelle Gattuso, has also championed many other causes at UHN including the Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine – a first of its kind in Canada. Allan’s son, Gary Slaight, has continued Allan’s philanthropic legacy, including supporting UHN programs in his role as President and CEO of The Slaight Family Foundation.
Twenty years ago, Allan was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada for his generous philanthropy. For many years to come, Allan’s contributions will continue to reverberate across Canada.
On behalf of everyone at Team UHN, as well as our many patients and their loved ones who have benefited from Allan’s vision and generosity, we extended our heartfelt gratitude to Allan and express our deepest condolences to the family.