Community Living Ontario Delighted by announcement

DATE: September 10, 2004

The provincial government announced yesterday a commitment to close Ontario’s three remaining institutions for people who have an intellectual disability by March 31, 2009.

Community and Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello says $110 million will be invested into closing institutions, increasing community supports and creating new places for people to live.

Community Living Ontario applauds the government’s announcement.

“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, in a news release.

“We are proud that Ontario now joins a growing number of jurisdictions in Canada in making this positive step.”
The announcement is part of the government’s plan to overhaul the developmental services sector. According to a government news release, about $70 million of the $110 million will be invested into creating new homes for people leaving institutions.

“It’s time to take a fresh look at our approach to assisting people with a developmental disability,” says Pupatello in the release.

“Our society has changed, families’ expectations have changed and we have to change, too. We need a comprehensive plan for the future – one that will lead us for the next 25 years and beyond.”

About 1,000 people currently live in the province’s remaining three large institutions – Southwestern Regional Centre near Blenheim, Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia and Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls.

Community Living Ontario, along with self-advocate groups People First of Ontario and People First of Canada, are leading a movement to close institutions.

In 1987, the government made a commitment to close Ontario’s institutions within 25 years. The government then started the process of deinstitutionalization and by 2000 there were 1,069 people with intellectual disabilities in three remaining institutions.

The province says this announcement is a step in a new direction.

“By spring 2009, Ontario will have completed the move from an institution-based service system for adults with a developmental disability to a community-based system that promotes independence, inclusion and choice,” the government news release states. “By that time, a whole generation of Ontarians with developmental disabilities will have grown up in an increasingly inclusive society.”