Ms. Claire Fainer, Executive Director, East Metro Youth Services (EMYS), will Retire This Fall


CMHO and The Board of Directors, EMYS is incredibly grateful for her leadership and guidance over her 30 plus years of remarkable service to children's mental health services in Scarborough, Toronto and across the province.

Executive Director since 1989, (preceded by her position as Clinical Director), Claire has played a critical role in the development and ongoing success of the organization. Informed by a diverse community and her inclusive and innovative thinking, EMYS has become a leader in children and youth mental health, establishing best practices and groundbreaking initiatives that have helped shape the local sector as we know it today.

One of Claire's greatest skills is she has always looked at the big picture through a strategic lens, which has allowed her to continuously create and enhance programing alongside her colleagues. Over the course of her tenure, she has led the charge behind several significant initiatives:

  • In 1989 EMYS became an early pioneer of ethno specific outreach strategies with the launch of the Chinese Community Outreach Program.
  • In 1992 EMYS became the first provincially accredited child and youth mental health centre in Toronto.
  • In 1999 EMYS co-created the Transitional Support Service which created pathways to care between EMYS and local hospitals.
  • In 2000 EMYS built capacity to deliver its first evidence based practice - Multi-Systemic Therapy, this was followed with a launch of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, and Trauma-Focused Counselling.
  • In 2005, following an all-time high year of gun-violence related deaths, the agency developed the Youth Outreach Worker Program. The program was piloted in three Toronto regions and eventually expanded across province in 2007. Today, there are 115 Youth Outreach Workers (YOWs) working in nine communities across Ontario engaging over 8,000 hard-to-reach youth.
  • In 2011, to increase access to service and reduce waitlists, EMYS created and led the What's Up Walk-In, a community-based, city-wide, free, mental health counseling service for children, youth and their families. Today, What's Up has six locations and is offered in a variety of languages.
  • In 2014 EMYS established the Gender-Based Violence program and subsequently co-founded the Human Trafficking Intervention Prevention Strategy (H.I.P.S.), a collaboration between 20 plus agencies in Toronto to address domestic human trafficking. East Metro has become the go-to thought leader and leading service provider to one of Toronto's most vulnerable youth communities.
  • She insisted EMYS continue to take calculated but necessary risks to enable the agency to make its mark on the service system. In 2015, EMYS was successful in its application to become the Moving on Mental Health - Toronto lead agency. Most recently, she was a guiding light when EMYS staff engaged in developing a new five-year strategic plan, which constitutes a strong roadmap for continued delivery of quality service while advancing sector transformation.

Claire's influential and genuine leadership style is built upon respect; a sincere desire to help, learn and teach, and sound judgement including how and when to consult with others. She inspires her team internally, respectfully empowering staff to take creative initiative. In return, she can always rely on the deep wells of staff commitment to the agency to meet its ambitious objectives.

EMYS will be planning an event to recognize Claire's contributions to the agency and to the community. We hope that you will join us in wishing Claire a wonderful retirement, inspired by the inexhaustible career and life she has led thus far.