Ontario minister talks about deinstitutionalization before national audience

Ontario minister talks about deinstitutionalization before national audience
Monday November 5, 2007 -- Natalie Miller

With an Ontario politician’s message about deinstitutionalization gracing the front page of its newsletter, national advocates are hopeful it will put the issue on the agenda in other provinces.

Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur discusses Ontario’s commitment to move from institution-based to community-based supports for people who have intellectual disabilities in the fall 2007 edition of Institution Watch.

“In Ontario, institutions will no longer play a role in the lives of our fellow citizens with developmental disabilities,” the minister writes.

“Our government efforts, in combination with an array of community based services and the support of families and community agencies, will ensure that persons with developmental disabilities take their rightful place in community as valued and contributing citizens. We know that community living brings enormous benefits to persons with developmental disabilities, enabling them to be part of and included in community life, and providing the opportunity to establish new friendships and participate fully in all aspects of community activities.”

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.

“They’re hoping to get her to the put the deinstitutionalization issues on the agenda in other provinces,” says Gordon Kyle, director of social policy and government relations for Community Living Ontario.

Community Living Ontario is feeling confident the government’s move to close the remaining three large institutions in the province is on track. The Liberals made a commitment in 2004 to close Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia, Southwestern Regional Centre in Blenheim and Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls by 2009. With the Liberals re-elected in the recent October election and a verbal commitment to Community Living Ontario’s deinstitutionalization task force, plans forge ahead in this province.

“I would offer my support and best wishes to the Task Force in its efforts to advance the issue of deinstitutionalization across this country. I am hopeful that our efforts and successes in Ontario provide an example for other jurisdictions as they too move toward development of a comprehensive community based system — one that supports community living for all persons,” Meilleur writes.