Court: Ontario Can Close Remaining Institutions
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 27, 2006
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--An Ontario Divisional Court has cleared the way for the province to close its remaining three government-run institutions housing 1,000 people with physical and developmental disabilities, and move them to homes in the community.
The decision, handed down Thursday, allows the province to continue with plans to shut Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia, Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls, and Southwestern Regional Centre in Chatham-Kent, by 2009.
"Everyone, including people with developmental disabilities, have a right to be included in their community," said Sandra Pupatello, Ontario's Minister of Community and Social Services, in a statement.
The decision also means that family members of institution residents will have to participate in individual plans to move them. Those family members will have a say in whether group homes or their own homes are most appropriate. They will, however, no longer be able to block the transfers out of the institutions.
Pupatello said that about one-fifth of the families had simply refused to work with the province since plans to close the facilities were announced in 2004.
"That option for them is no longer on the table," she said.
Over the past two decades, 13 government-run institutions housing about 17,000 people with disabilities have been shut down.
"The vast majority of people who have a developmental disability in Ontario are already being served, very successfully, in the community," said Pupatello.
"We look forward to making that a reality for all of the people with a developmental disability that we serve."
Keith Powell, executive director of Community Living Ontario, said in a statement: "Our society is moving on from segregated care to a model of natural, inclusive supports that considers and respects the individual as a citizen of the community."
"Ont. to close last homes for disabled" (Toronto Star)
"Court decision seen as victory for developmentally disabled" (Globe and Mail)