The Issue: Where is Home?

October 9, 2014

Posted in: Uncategorized

It is a part of the vision of Community Living Ontario that all persons “have access to decent and appropriate homes which they are able to call their own.”

Home is a word that means more than “where we live”; it means a place where we like to be, a place where we find rest, family and friends. More than a residence or shelter, home is the focus for our relationships and the basis of our presence in the community.

Likewise, an institution is more than a building.  Institutional thinking and behaviour fails to put a person’s interests, needs and wishes at the center of decision making.  Institutions can continue, even after big ones are closed, if people do not have control over their lives.  

Many people in Ontario who have an intellectual disability have been denied the right to live in a regular community that supports and values their contributions.  The history of institutionalization in Ontario continues today because many people remain segregated from the rest of society in settings that deny them the basic rights that most enjoy.

The Community Living movement aims to reverse this mistake.  Even when institutionalization appeared to be an acceptable option for people with disabilities, there were families who rejected it for their sons and daughters and advocated for equal opportunities to learn, work and live in their communities.

Residential services and supports should be provided so that people can live in their own community.  People should be able to live in self-owned homes or in housing that is controlled and directed by the person who makes it a home and facilitated by a non-profit community-based organization.

We believe that a range of quality community residential settings and individualized personal supports, consistent with the principles of community living, must be readily available and that people have the right to choose where and with whom they live.

People in Ontario should not have to become residents of institutions in order to receive the medical or other supports and services provided by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.  These supports and services should be available to people in their homes in the community.  Cases of institutionalization in nursing homes, or chronic care facilities for these purposes should be viewed as failures on the part of society.

Research, Legislation and Policy Alternatives

The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities is explicit on segregation:

States Parties to the present Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:

  1. Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement;
  2. Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;
  3. Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.”

 Ontario’s Social Inclusion Act (“Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of People with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008”):

On May 1, 2008 at Community Living Day at the Legislature, Minister Madeleine Meilleur tabled Bill 77 to replace the Developmental Service Act. After hearings at the Standing Committee on Social Policy, where Community Living Ontario and more than eighty other groups made presentations, Bill 77 became law as the “Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of People with Developmental Disabilities”, or The Social Inclusion Act. A significant change from the Developmental Services Act is that the Social Inclusion Act removes the Minister’s authority to operate institutions.

 Excerpt written by Community Living Ontario

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