Today in Canada, thousands of Canadians with intellectual
disabilities remain trapped in large, segregated institutions — inappropriately and unjustifiably segregated from society. They remain,
for the most part, hidden and removed from mainstream society despite a collective knowledge, based on research and practice over the
past 30 years, that with proper community based supports all persons
with intellectual disabilities thrive in the community. They remain in
these institutions as a result of inaction by governments and
People First of Canada (PFC) and Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)
Task Force was formed in 2002. The Task Force held its first meeting in
Halifax (June 15 – 16, 2002) during a CACL Board Retreat. Through the
establishment of this Task Force, People First of Canada, the Canadian
Association for Community Living (CACL), and their provincial and
territorial associations, commit to highlighting the continued and
unacceptable incarceration of persons with intellectual disabilities in
institutions throughout this country.
- To get deinstitutionalisation back on the national agenda
- To develop a plan to make deinstitutionalisation a national priority
- To develop the relationship between CACL and People First of Canada, and agree to keep working together
The Task Force has adopted several objectives that guide its ongoing work:
- Develop a framework for a National Plan on Deinstitutionalisation,
- Develop a working definition of "institution",
- Identify actions that can be taken by People First and CACL to more
actively oppose the continued institutionalization or
re-institutionalization of persons with intellectual disabilities in
- Provide leadership and coordination to the CACL Federation Action Planning process, and
- Establish appropriate linkages with other Federation Action Planning Committees.
Guiding Values and Beliefs
The Task Force believes it is essential, in order to ensure positive
outcomes within a deinstitutionalisation initiative, that persons with
intellectual disabilities have:
- The right to choose where they will live, and with whom;
- Services/programs that are directed and controlled by the person and
that are respectful of their right to make choices, and take risks;
- The right to individualized living arrangements and control over the required individualized funding;
- The necessary disability related supports needed to fully participate in the community;
- Recognition of the supported decision making model and support from
friends/family/advocates necessary to ensure an appropriate planning
The Task Force believes that deinstitutionalisation must be about more
than simply closing large institutions, about more than simply replacing
large institutions with smaller ones, about more than creating networks
of group homes, and ultimately about more than substituting isolation
outside the community for isolation within the community.
Task Force Membership
We believe that institutionalization of persons with intellectual
disabilities is a denial of their basic right of citizenship and
participation in community; a removal of rights protected by our
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, human rights legislation and
many other international agreements that Canada has signed.
The institutionalization of persons with intellectual disabilities in
Canada remains as a major barrier to full inclusion and citizenship,
both for those individuals who remain in these facilities as well as the
many thousands of Canadians who are at risk of future
institutionalization. We know that:
- More than 900 persons remain trapped in institutional facilities
designed specifically to house persons with intellectual disabilities.
- Over 12,000 Canadian citizens are living in health related
institutions such as Seniors facilities, Nursing Hones, acute care
hospitals, Long Term Care facilities and Personal Care Homes, as opposed
to ordinary homes in the community.
- Many Provinces and Territories are beginning to move away from
earlier commitments made to complete institutional closures; while
others have yet to indicate plans to close facilities.
- In at least two areas new institutions are being built that will house persons with intellectual disabilities.
- Current government policy in many provinces and territories restrict
access to required funding and to the disability supports and community
services necessary to community living.
- More and more, individuals with intellectual disabilities and their
families are presented with options that do not support lifestyles of
choice but rather entry into group home programs and/or other places
where people are congregated.
- In many provinces and territories persons with intellectual
disabilities are being admitted on a routine basis to institutions,
directly violating a stated policy of deinstitutionalisation.