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Hospital guarantees $1 million for December 50/50 draw

Foundation officials hope to capture the magic of last year's December draw, which featured a $2.3-million prize.
Hospital president and CEO Rhonda Crocker-Ellacott and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation president and CEO Glenn Craig launch a guaranteed $1-million Thunder Bay 50/50 prize on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022 at Intercity Shopping Centre. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – Glenn Craig’s December phone call is going to be worth at least $1 million to a lucky Thunder Bay 50/50 ticket buyer.

The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation president and CEO on Thursday announced next month’s draw will come with a seven-figure guarantee, gambling that Christmas shoppers will snap up tickets like they did in December 2021, when the draw set a $2.3-million record.

“We’ve been talking to people and saying how long is a piece of string? Who know. We might hit $2 million or $3 million. There’s no upward limit, so if people get behind this the hospital is going to do extremely well, but somebody’s going to have a very nice 2023,” Craig said.

Prior to last December, the previous one-month high had been $965,000, the amount raised in the popular lottery’s inaugural draw.

“We were looking at what we’ve been doing on a monthly basis, about a half-million dollars, which is not a bad amount to win,” Craig said. “But we wanted to add some excitement, so we thought let’s go big and let’s guarantee a million dollars.

“And I must say, when you sign that guarantee your hands shake a little bit, but we’re confident in our community. We’ve been able to show the impact of these funds at the hospital, so I don’t think it’s too big of a gamble.”

Proceeds from the December draw will be directed to a planned three-phase improvement to the hospital’s emergency department, which has seen more and more visitors as a trio of respiratory illnesses have made the rounds.

“It’s three moderate-level projects, under $10 million each, so they’re still significant projects,” said hospital president and CEO Rhonda Crocker-Ellacott. “So we’re looking to do it in three phases where we would do the emergency room, registration area and triage desk. Most people who have seen the emergency department that we could make some improvements in terms of patient flow and experience.”

Phase 2 would be a mental health emergency department and the third phase is a psychiatric intensive care outside the ER.

The projects still need provincial approval.

Tickets for the draw will be available online, and also at the Foundation’s pop-up location at Intercity Shopping Centre, located in the food court at the former David’s Tea store.

Craig said the idea for the pop-up – which may become permanent depending on how successful it is – derived from the former Christmas 50/50 draw sponsored in part by the shopping centre.

It gives ticket-buyers more options, he said.

“For years we had a paper-based 50/50 with Intercity, and one of the great frustrations with some of our people is they can’t buy these tickets or they’re not comfortable with e-commerce,” Craig said. “So they wanted us out in the community, so when we sat down we said what better place than to come back to the Intercity mall?”

Tickets for the December draw go on sale at and at the pop-up location on Friday morning. Tickets are on sale through 11:59 p.m. on Thursday for the November draw, which is  $550,000 and still climbing.

There will be 17 early-bird prizes, including a $25,000 draw on Dec. 28.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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