Developmental disability homes to be closed
By RICHARD MACKIE AND MARGARET PHILP
Globe and Mail,
Park spent 18 of his
63 years in an institution because his epilepsy was judged a
disability requiring round-the-clock care. Yesterday, he cheered an
"No one should live in a place not of their choosing, be forced to go to the bathroom on a schedule, have everything done on a schedule. Get up at whether you have to or not. Go to bed at whether you have to or not. All these things," Mr. Park told reporters.
announcement by Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello that
Over the next three years, Ms. Pupatello said her ministry will spend $110-million on community services for the 1,000 residents, including $70-million to build new housing for them, some of it with 24-hour care. The province also is launching a wholesale review of the system serving people with developmental disabilities.
"We will complete a long-standing journey from an institution-based service system for people with developmental disabilities to a community-based system that promotes inclusion, independence and choice," Ms. Pupatello said.
The move will allow residents of the three institutions the chance to follow in Mr. Park's footsteps.
"I wanted to live a real life like my older brother and my older sister and set my own agenda. I didn't want to have somebody telling me what to do," said Mr. Park, who now lives in a private home with his wife. In the community, he said, "you have different life experiences and so you are a better person as a result."
academics alike are thrilled by the prospect of
"For Ontario, with the largest number of people institutionalized, to make the financial and political commitment to do this bodes well for finishing the job of closing institutions in this country," said Michael Bach, executive vice-president of the Canadian Association for Community Living.
He said the move "sends a really important signal and will really provide momentum to this effort."
Research shows the cost of running institutions to be about the same as supporting disabled people to live in their communities.
"From a practical point of view, it really does not make sense for the Ontario taxpayers to be paying for about 1,000 people to be living in three enormous facilities," said Ivan Brown, a social work professor at the University of Toronto with expertise in developmental disability issues. "They're very expensive to run."
Still, the announcement met with stiff criticism from New Democratic Party critic Gilles Bisson and Leah Casselman, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents many of the workers at the three sites.
loss of these
jobs is an economic earthquake to
Mr. Park is optimistic that the people slated to move out of the institutions will fare better than he did when he returned to the community in 1978.
"If the services that are there today had been there in the '40s and '50s, I would not have ever had to be in an institution."