The Manitoba government has agreed to move dozens of people with intellectual disabilities out of an institution and into the community under a human rights settlement announced Friday.
Some 49 residents of the Manitoba Developmental Centre in Portage La Prairie, Man., will be moved over the next three years into group homes and other facilities.
The decision is part of a mediated settlement between the province and Community Living Manitoba, a group that has fought to have the institution closed and filed a complaint with the province's human rights commission.
“We didn't close it, but we have started getting people out, and eventually, what the building is used for will change,” said Rose Flaig, the group's executive director.
“We're about community living and there is enough social science evidence that says people thrive and contribute and live better lives in the community, so we think that's where people belong.”
The group filed the human rights complaint in 2006, and said institutionalizing people with mental disabilities was “an affront to human dignity” and discriminatory.
The centre currently houses 250 residents, many of whom have been in for 30 or more years. The Manitoba government has been under pressure to move away from institutionalizing people with mental disabilities and instead provide increased support for community living.
Ontario closed down its last such facility in 2009.
But there is still a need for round-the-clock residential care for some people, the government said.
“We believe this agreement supports the rights of residents at MDC to choose to live in the environment that best suits them,” Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh said in a written statement.
The government announced earlier his year it plans to introduce new services at the centre to support more independent living. That may include new homes in Portage La Prairie that would let residents move out but remain close by for day services.