Advocates active across Canada

Advocates for community living active across Canada
Deinstitutionalization task force provides national update
Wednesday November 7, 2007 -- Natalie Miller
While Ontario is heading in the direction of community life as the only option for people who have an intellectual disability, other provinces vary in their approaches of support.

There are currently about 400 people residing in Ontario’s three largest remaining institutions. The government recently reiterated its commitment to close the facilities by March 2009.

The recent edition of Institution Watch, the official newsletter of People First of Canada and the Canadian Association for Community Living’s joint Task Force on Deinstitutionalization, highlights Ontario and success stories that arise from deinstitutionalization. It also provides an update of deinstitutionalization status in other provinces.

In Manitoba, the government is committing the resources necessary to allow for 20 people to leave the Manitoba Developmental Centre during 2007-2008. Between April and September 2007, four people have returned to the community and planning is advancing for the remaining 16 people in this particular transition. There are still 340 people living at the institution. There is currently a Human Rights Commission complaint outstanding which was filed a year ago by Community Living Manitoba on behalf of the residents at the Manitoba Developmental Centre.

In Alberta, the Michener Centre houses about 290 people, with plans for another eight to 12 people to move to the community in the near future.

“In spite of any real political direction to close Michener, senior administration and the Central Alberta Persons with Developmental Disabilities Board are supporting people to leave the centre each year,” the task force says. “That’s at least a partial win, but without a political decision to close the institution, any change in management or board membership could quickly reverse this positive trend.”

In Saskatchewan, the government has expressed support for community living but hasn’t made plans yet to close the Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw. The Deinstitutionalization Coalition of Saskatchewan plans to formally ask all candidates questions about their plans for deinstitutionalization as there is an election this fall in the province.

In Nova Scotia, over the summer, the province’s premier announced an investment of almost $19 million to renovate the Riverview Adult Residential Centre in Pictou County and to build three replacement eight-bed group homes. Riverview houses about 100 people.

“This announcement coupled with a previous commitment to build a new 24-bed institution confirms, unfortunately, that Nova Scotia intends to include institutional placement for many of its citizens for decades to come,” the task force states. Nova Scotia institutionalizes more than 600 people.

Newfoundland and Labrador, along with British Columbia, have already closed their large-scale institutions for people who have an intellectual disability.