All Ontarians should enjoy the rights to inclusion, dignity and personal choices in their daily lives. While most of us take the ability to make these choices for granted, there are still some people who do not enjoy the level of rights that most of us do. Simple rights like being able to decide what clothing to wear or what to have for lunch are often not available to some of the most vulnerable members of our society – people with developmental disabilities. An initiative is underway to change this.
In April 2010, the OHRC reviewed the Ministry of Community and Social Services’ Draft Regulation on Quality Assurance Measures for services and supports to adults with a developmental disability. This regulation supports the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008.
We agreed that the proposed quality assurance measures include ways to support adults with a developmental disability. In particular, the requirement for service agencies and providers to promote inclusion, individual choice and independence reflects important human rights principles.
While the groups we have heard from generally support the new legislative and regulatory direction, we also heard some concerns and constructive recommendations. These include the amendments proposed by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, including:
- Requiring service agencies to develop human rights policies and procedures specific to the unique circumstances of people with developmental disabilities based on minimum rights and entitlements prescribed in the regulation. This would include the right to live free from discrimination, harassment, abuse and neglect, as well as freedom of choice in service decisions and activities of daily living
- Setting detailed requirements for agencies to establish complaint mechanisms, as well as defining an external appeals mechanism
- Amending the definition of police record checks to avoid negative effects for people with mental health issues who are in contact with police
- Requiring agencies to “fulfill to the maximum extent possible” rather than simply “consider” the needs, goals, preferences and choices of the individual
- Ensuring that service agencies respect individual privacy and dignity while monitoring health concerns
We also recommended that minimum rights and entitlements be expanded to include the right to accommodation short of undue hardship as required under the Code, and apply to all protected grounds of discrimination.
We look forward to working further on this important regulation, which will have a profound impact on the quality of life of many vulnerable people.