September 15, 2014

The Huronia Regional Centre

The former Huronia Regional Centre was founded in 1876 as a residential facility for people with a developmental disability. The facility grew rapidly from the turn of the century and was known as the Ontario Hospital School for nearly 40 years.

By 1968, the population had risen to nearly 3,000 residents. Through this period, provincial leaders and community living advocates encouraged acceptance for people with a developmental disability within the community and worked to reduce the population in provincial facilities.

The name “Huronia Regional Centre” was chosen in 1974 when the facility came under the direction of the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The government closed the facility in 2009, ending the era of institutionalization for people with developmental disabilities in Ontario.

For more information about Ontario’s former residential facilities for people with developmental disabilities, visit Ontario.ca/DShistory.

Settlement Between Former Residents of the Huronia Regional Centre and the Province

A settlement between former residents of Huronia Regional Centre and the province was reached on Sept. 17, 2013. Under the settlement, the government agreed to apologize to the former residents of the facility, establish a fund of $35 million for former residents who suffered harm while living at the facility, and other commemorative undertakings, such as:

  • Preserving documents produced in the course of the litigation at the Archives of Ontario for research purposes.
  • Erecting a cemetery fence and signage, and developing a registry of the people buried at the Huronia Regional Centre cemetery.
  • Allowing for the preservation of historical items that evoke memories of the daily lives of residents such as beds, tools, trophies and kitchen supplies.

To date, the government has:

  • Provided former residents, their families and the public access to the Huronia site on five occasions. More than 700 people have already toured areas of the former Huronia facility.
  • Created a registry of those individuals buried at the Huronia Regional Centre cemetery. The registry can be accessed online. The current cemetery boundary is being confirmed using ground-penetrating radar.
  • Preserved more than 65,000 documents for the Archives of Ontario and made these documents available to the public. Documents have been posted online or are available in a reading room in Toronto.
  • Reviewed more than 1.4 million pages of former residents’ case files from Huronia, Rideau and Southwest Regional Centres. So far, more than 1,800 case files have been released to former residents of these three former facilities. Case files are 500 pages on average.
  • Installed a commemorative plaque at the former Huronia Regional Centre.
  • Issued a formal apology by Premier Wynne in the legislature on Dec. 9, 2013 to the former residents of Huronia Regional Centre.

On Oct. 17 and 18, 2014, the government will be giving scholars and documentarians the opportunity to view artifacts from the former Huronia Regional Centre to determine which items should be preserved.

The settlement fund is being administered by Crawford Class Action Services. For more information, visit huroniaclassaction.ca.

Developmental Services in Ontario Today

Ontario’s developmental services system is now completely community-based. People with developmental disabilities live in a range of settings - from their family homes to community group homes - and take part in a wide variety of community activities.

The 2014 Ontario Budget committed $810 million over three years for community and developmental services. The government is working with individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and community partners to strengthen and modernize Ontario’s developmental services system so that people with developmental disabilities can live as independently as possible as valued members of their communities.