DATE: September 9, 2004

The 10,000 individuals and families who are members of Community Living Ontario are thrilled that the more than 1,000 people who currently reside in Ontario’s three developmental services institutions will soon have the opportunity to live as citizens in the community.

“We are delighted that the era of housing people in segregated institutions is coming to an end in Ontario,” says Keith Powell, executive director of Community Living Ontario, responding to today’s announcement by Community and Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello that Southwestern, Huronia, and Rideau Regional Centres will close by 2009. “We are proud that Ontario now joins a growing number of jurisdictions in Canada in making this positive step.”

“There is no question that all people can and should have the opportunity to live in the community,” says Mr. Powell. “For those in these institutions, this announcement gives them the first opportunity they’ve ever had to choose where in the community they will live. That, itself, is cause for celebration.”
Donald Parent, of Wallaceburg, Ont., himself a person who once lived in all three facilities, is overjoyed with Minister Pupatello’s announcement: “My friends, those I left behind, will now be out and able to experience freedom and all that the outside world has to offer.”

Closing institutions has been the commitment of all governments in Ontario, regardless of political stripe, since 1987. “We are pleased that the current government has chosen to honour this commitment to those who will now have the chance to experience community life. We thank the Minister for her determination to move forward with this.”

The Community Living movement has been a leader in supporting those who move out of institutions and in helping local communities strengthen their capacity to welcome people. Over the years, thousands of people have already left institutions and returned successfully to their communities.

“We have more than 50 years’ experience in helping to make inclusion in the community a reality,” says Mr. Powell, “We are confident that, with adequate planning and support, we can build upon those previous successes so that the transition for these 1,000 people will be equally successful.”

The Minister’s announcement also included a $110 million investment in developmental services, including $70 million earmarked for creating new places to live. “We are confident that the Ministry will work with Community Living Ontario, our local associations, individuals, their families and other support networks to make the best and most creative use of these and other developmental services funds so that people truly become part of the community around them,” says Mr. Powell.

The Minister also announced a major review of developmental services policy, another move applauded by Community Living Ontario. “We applaud the determination of the Ministry to affirm that support for individuals and their families must be based on their citizenship in the community,” says Mr. Powell.