History of Developmental Services


The Government of Ontario passed "An Act to Authorise the Erection of an Asylum within this Province for the Reception of Insane and/or Lunatic Persons". This law authorized the government to establish the first provincial asylum, thereby giving Ontario a degree of responsibility for the care of people with a disability, including those with a developmental disability.


The Government of Ontario opened its first institution for people with a developmental disability in Orillia. There were many reasons for the institutionalization of people with a developmental disability, such as the overcrowding of jails and other asylums, as well as social and medical attitudes towards people with disabilities in general, including developmental disabilities. Large institutions were built far out in the countryside away from urban areas, because it was felt that cleaner air and open spaces would be good for the residents.

1876 to 1960

During these years, the Government of Ontario built more institutions for people with a developmental disability. By 1960, Ontario was increasing its number of directly operated institutions, which were home to more than 6,000 people.


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The evolution of government policy and legislation: