History of Developmental Services


The Ministry of Community and Social Services implemented its second five-year plan to provide community living opportunities for individuals with a developmental disability living in provincially-operated facilities.

Under this initiative, the ministry:

  • continued to reduce the number of residents living in other facilities, and
  • closed the following facilities:
    • Pine Ridge Centre in Aurora (closed in 1984/85)
    • Bluewater Centre in Goderich (closed in 1984/85)
    • St. Thomas Adult Rehabilitation and Training Centre (S.T.A.R.T.) in St. Thomas (closed in 1984/85)
    • St. Lawrence Regional Centre in Brockville (closed in 1984/85)

The ministry introduced the Special Services at Home program to help children with a physical or developmental disability live at home with their families. In 1990, the program was expanded to include adults with a developmental disability. This program provides funding to families so they may purchase supports directly.


The Ministry of Community and Social Services published "Challenges and Opportunities: Community Living for People with Developmental Handicaps".

The plan set out the government's strategic plan for the next seven years as part of its long-term plan to:

  • establish a comprehensive community service system, and
  • phase-out institutional care.

Under this plan, the ministry closed five more facilities:

  • Durham Centre in Whitby (closed in 1987)
  • Muskoka Centre in Gravenhurst (closed in 1994)
  • Northwestern Regional Centre in Thunder Bay (closed in 1994)
  • D'Arcy Place in Cobourg (closed in 1996)
  • Oxford Regional Centre (closed in 1997)

The government also committed to closing all remaining provincially-operated facilities within 25 years (by 2012).

During implementation of this plan, a zero admissions philosophy became practice for the facilities, first for children and then adults.

Challenges and Opportunities established four service principles to guide future programming and service development:

  • independence
  • protection
  • individualized services, and
  • quality programs.

Between 1987 and 2004, Ontario closed another six facilities and helped more than 6,000 people make the transition to community life.

The Adult Protective Service Worker program (which had been established in 1974) provided client advocacy, case management and counselling services for individuals with a developmental disability living in the community without significant family support.


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The evolution of government policy and legislation: