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Canada’s last institutional care centres for people with intellectual disabilities to close in Manitoba

senior man sitting on the hospital bed alone at night

The Manitoba government is closing down one of the last assisted living centres for persons with intellectual disabilities that has been in service for more than a century in Canada.

Manitoba Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced on January 29; the government will start moving the 133 residents of the Manitoba Developmental Centre in Portage la Prairie, Man., into smaller community services such as group homes over the next three years. 

“In Canada and around the world, there is a trend away from institutional care toward community living and inclusion, where individuals with intellectual disabilities live as members of their communities and are valued for their abilities and uniqueness,” said Squires. 

“This gives them choice and control over their lives and provides opportunities for engagement in their communities. As a result, their lives are enhanced and enriched.”

“The city has been working collaboratively with the province for many years on the future of Manitoba Developmental Centre and understand the need for this change,” said Mayor Irvine Ferris, City of Portage la Prairie. 

The minister noted that experiences during the coronavirus pandemic have highlighted additional factors supporting the decision to make this change, including increased risks associated with institutional settings and community agencies’ capacity to adapt quickly.

“We congratulate the Province of Manitoba for having the courage to do the right thing for people with intellectual disabilities living in institutions,” said Janet Forbes, Executive Director, Inclusion Winnipeg Inc. 

“The closure of the Manitoba Developmental Centre is the first step in abolishing institutional care. As a society, we must guarantee future generations of people with intellectual disabilities, and their families, that we will never create institutions again.” said Forbes in a statement. 

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