Allergy/Asthma Information Association

A Brief History of the AAIA


The AAIA was founded as a voluntary organization in 1964 by parents of allergic children in the Toronto area. One of the first and most important priorities of the group was to obtain the legal requirement for ingredient labelling on foods.  A newsletter was begun to distribute the information, recipes and coping tips that families with food allergic children so desperately needed. 

The organization knew the fight to obtain ingredient listings on foods was won when Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced, “Canadians have a right to know what is in their food when they buy it, not when they take it home and eat it”. The group then went on to work with Ron Bedford, the first Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, to obtain legislation to require labelling on fabrics, which also passed.

The association was federally incorporated as a registered charity in 1970. As the years passed, many new programs were developed to keep pace with changing needs and knowledge. Today the AAIA is the only Canadian health charity that deals with allergy, asthma and anaphylaxis in English and French with a network of volunteers in every province and territory. The AAIA works collaboratively with Canadians, governments, the food and pharmaceutical industries, employers and other associations to improve the safety of environments and quality of life for all allergic and asthmatic Canadians.

Some of the highlights of our history are:


$60,000 transferred to CAAIF for research in Ontario on food allergy; The Whitby Ontario Run/Walk raised an additional $20,000 for research; the 4th Summer Camp was held in Alberta; launched a new AAIA website in English and French; Second Ring Toss tournament held in Nova Scotia in June 2007 to raise funds for education and research


Moved into new National Office in Vaughan, Ontario; Hired a bilingual National Office Manager; Whitby Run/Walk raised $10,000 for research (funded by the Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation); a Ring/Toss event in Nova Scotia raised an additional $5,000 for research (CAAIF); 3rd Summer Camp for food allergic children was held in Alberta; new AAIA product catalogue; Signed a licensing agreement with the New-Brunswick Department of Education to distribute the AAIA Anaphylaxis Reference Kit and provided anaphylaxis training in NB schools as per policy #704; AAIA presented at FARRP/Health Canada conference


Revised the Peanut and Nut Allergies: The Facts brochure; Received a second Population Health Fund grant from the Federal government for Phase II of the Volunteers Program; revised the Milk Allergy: The Facts brochure; Organised a Family Conference in Barrie, Ontario; Whitby Run/Walk raised $5,000 for research transferred to the Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation; 2nd Summer Camp held in Alberta, worked with CSACI, Anaphylaxis Canada and the Association Québécoise des allergies alimentaires  to develop "Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Settings" (first printing in English in  December 2005); actively participated in AllergyExpo in Toronto; Volunteer Handbook published along with new Volunteer Today! Brochure; Dust, Pet and Mold Allergies brochure published


Published the Asthma: The Facts brochure; Received a second Population Health Fund grant from Health Canada to develop the second phase of the Asthma and Anaphylaxis education program; Received an Office of the Voluntary Sector grant to establish a Volunteer development program; Published the new AAIA Asthma Kit and the revised AAIA Anaphylaxis Reference Kit; Participated in the preparation of the Allergy Expo conference and exposition; Organised a volunteer/activators weekend in Ontario; First ever Food Allergy Summer Camp held July 5 - 9, 2004


Published a new brochure, Peanut and Nut Allergies: The Facts; a Family Conference was held in Hamilton, Ontario


Published the Anaphylaxis: The Facts brochure and Egg Allergy: The Facts brochure; a Family Conference was held in London, Ontario; a cross-country team of staff and volunteers developed the AAIA Asthma Reference Kit, funding by a Population Health Fund Grant from Health Canada; invited by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health to make a submission on genetically modified foods


Family Conference held in Kingston, Ontario, with concurrent children’s and parents’ programs.


Organised a volunteer day in Brampton, Ontario; Free of Allergens - Full of Flavor cookbook published (milk-free, egg-free, nut-free)


Asthma insert for Homemaker's magazine - "Asthma Breathtaking News - The patient's guide to asthma care" in November 1999  


AAIA's first website was created by volunteer webmaster Nancy Wiebe of Calgary; Wipfli's World of Peanut/Nut-Free Cooking and Wipfli's World of Egg-Free Cooking cookbooks published


Published the Milk Allergy: The Facts brochure; Organized a national anaphylaxis committee and developed a AAIA Anaphylaxis Reference Kit; "Nothing to Sneeze At" series of public forums across Canada to raise awareness about allergic rhinitis; "Kid to Kid on Asthma" campaign - series of mall displays across Canada to raise awareness about childhood asthma


First printing in French of “Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Child Care Settings”; fundraising golf tournament held; expanded Nadia's Run to 5K Allergy/Asthma Challenge; piloted major television ad campaign in Ontario in English and French to reach out-of control asthmatics; Worked with Canadian School Boards Association on "Anaphylaxis: A Handbook for School Boards" (first printing in English and French July 1996)


Launched Info Allergie, AAIA’s newsletter in French; Inauguration of Nadia’s Run for Asthma; worked with CSACI and Ontario Allergy Society to develop "Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Child Care Settings" (first printing in English August 1995)


Moved into a larger office in Mississauga and hired additional staff


Created two special membership categories, Corporate Partners Program and Professional Membership Package


Changed name to Allergy/Asthma Information Association and developed an exciting new logo and new look for the newsletter AAIA Quarterly


Launched the Anaphylaxis Awareness Campaign using the theme: Awareness, Avoidance and Action; First regional conferences held in all 5 regions in the fall of 1991


Hired Regional Coordinators and established Regional offices in Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies/NWT, and British Columbia/Yukon to provide more interactive community services to allergic individuals


Instituted the Riva Cohen Recognition and Appreciation Award for volunteers. May was declared Allergy Awareness Month; Established pilot regional office in British Columbia


Executive Director, Susan Daglish, was recipient of the Therese Casgrain Award


French translations of key Information Letters and cookbook were made available; Atlantic Coordinator, Gloria Shanks, was a guest on Front Page Challenge


Updated and redesigned AIA material; including newsletter Allergy Quarterly


Second cookbook, Foods for Festive Occasions, was published


Launched a campaign to obtain ingredient listings on medications


Obtained a computer to handle membership lists


Revised cookbook, Diets Unlimited for Limited Diets, and had it professionally published


Introduced the AIA calendar, buttons and T-shirts as fundraisers


Reorganization of publications, including new Newsletter: The Allergy Shot


Entered a liaison with Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology for the mutual purpose of furthering patient education


Moved into an office and hired staff


Began work on Public Education through seminars, talks, interviews, etc.


Instituted Information Letter series


Formed Advisory Board to assist AIA on technical matters


Worked with Consumer and Corporate Affairs on fabric labelling


Embarked on campaign to make doctors aware of the AIA’s services


Finalized work with Consumer and Corporate Affairs over ingredient labelling


Initiated AIA’s very successful format of combining guest lecturers with our Annual General Meeting


Incorporated federally as Allergy Information Association and registered as a charitable organization


Allergy Information Newsletter was launched. Membership increased dramatically


Invited to make a presentation at the Canadian Food Processors’ Convention


Repeal of Tariff passed in 1906 forbidding importation of milk-free margarine.


Petition of 2,755 names requesting ingredient listing of foods presented to Honourable Judy LaMarsh


First cookbook compiled, containing 148 recipes.


Allergy Information founded in Toronto as a voluntary organization; advocacy for food ingredient labelling.


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