Majority Liberal Government Has Unique Opportunity to Push Forward on Critical Disability Issues

    TORONTO, Oct. 11 /CNW/ - Community Living Ontario has congratulated the
Ontario Liberal Party on its sweeping win in yesterday's election, and says,
with its majority win, this government is now well-positioned to continue the
work it has begun in the disability sector to improve the quality of life for
Ontarians who have an intellectual disability.
    "In the years leading up to this election, this government had already
begun some important work in the disability sector. The majority win means
that work can continue and that the Liberal government now has a unique
opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people who have an
intellectual disability," said Keith Powell, executive director for Community
Living Ontario.
    Powell was clear about the critical disability issues Community Living
Ontario identified going into this election and that demand this government's
attention and action now that the election is over. "We're asking that this
government increase its investment in the Ontario Disability Support Program
(ODSP); that it continue and increase its current funding investment in
community supports for people with disabilities; and that it continue its
transformation plan for community supports so that people with disabilities
can work and live in society with meaning and success."
    The need for increases to ODSP was a concern voiced by several advocacy
organizations like Community Living Ontario leading up to the election. "Many
people with disabilities in Ontario are living in an increasing state of
poverty because ODSP has failed to maintain adequate levels of income support
for people," added Powell. "The top end payment for ODSP is under $12,000 a
year. That needs to be increased, because right now, people can barely afford
to pay their rent, or pay for food and other costs to daily living."
    Gordon Kyle, director of social policy at Community Living Ontario,
expressed some disappointment that the full range of disability issues didn't
receive more election profile, but is optimistic that the developmental
services sector can continue to work with the Liberal government to bring
positive social change for Ontarians with disabilities.
    "There is a spectrum of disability issues that weren't addressed during
this election that need to be dealt with in more comprehensive ways," said
Kyle. "Decision-making on policies regarding health, education, and social
services need to take into consideration - and reflect - the human rights,
needs, and goals of people with disabilities. We look forward to working
together with this government to make that happen."
    There is good reason for Kyle's optimism as seen in the Ontario's
government long-standing record in supporting people who have an intellectual
disability to live in the community after years of living in institutions. In
1987, the Ontario government committed to closing all remaining institutions
for people with disabilities in the province - a decision upheld by all
successive governments to date. In 2004, the Ontario government maintained its
commitment by announcing that the final three remaining institutions would
close by 2009.
    "Since these facilities began closing, more than 6,000 people, many with
the most profound support needs, have left the institutions in Ontario to date
and are now living a better quality of life in the community," added Kyle.
"This has been made possible through government-funded community supports and
the welcoming and inclusive attitudes of the communities where people now
live. We expect to see more of this in 2009 and will continue to advocate for
the full inclusion of people who have a disability in today's society," he

    Community Living Ontario is a province-wide federation that promotes and
facilitates the full participation, inclusion and citizenship of people who
have an intellectual disability. More than 12,000 people are members of
Community Living Ontario through membership in 112 affiliated local
associations. Community Living provides direct support and services to people
who have an intellectual disability, helps communities build the capacity to
support people, and advocates for social change toward the full inclusion of
all people in community.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Abigail Brown, Community Living
Ontario, Office: (416) 447-4348 ext. 224 or Cell: (416) 735-3101

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Community Living Ontario

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