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Ontario To Be Institution-Free By 2009
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 13, 2004

TORONTO, ONTARIO--If everything goes as planned, the province of Ontario will no longer have government-operated institutions housing people with developmental disabilities in 2009.

The Ontario government announced Thursday that it will close its three remaining institutions and will move the 1,000 residents into homes in the community over the next five years.

"Attitudes and expectations have changed, and yet government policies have not kept up," said Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello at a news conference. "This is a major problem."

The provincial government will spend $110 million over the next four years to create the necessary community-based supports, including $70 million for new housing.

"Today, families want greater choice and flexibility in getting the supports and services they need to care for their family members at home," Pupatello explained.

Since 1987, thirteen other Ontario institutions have closed, allowing 6,000 people to move into the community.

The province currently spends about $1 billion on community-based services for 39,000 people with developmental disabilities. It spends about $105 million on the 1,000 people housed in the Huronia, Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centres.

Families of institution residents, along with the union representing the 2,200 workers who work at the institutions, are critical of the plan. They say those who are currently housed there have multiple disabilities and cannot be adequately served in the community.

Pupatello tried to reassure workers that the government would do what it can to find jobs for the displaced workers.

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