History of Developmental Services


The Ministry of Community and Social Services introduced "Foundations" a funding initiative to help young adults with a developmental disability make a successful transition from going to school to taking part in work and activities within the community.


The ministry introduced another multi-year plan in 2001 to help people with a developmental disability fully participate in community life.

The plan focused on three priority groups:

  • adult children of aging parents
  • transitional-aged youth, and
  • individuals with changing, multiple and complex needs.

The multi-year plan had three key elements:

1. Agency revitalization

  • enhancing the stability and capacity of the agency service sector (staffing and wage issues)

2. Places to live

  • expanding the number and range of community-based accommodation options

3. Community supports

  • investing in a range of supports including in- and out-of-home respite, day programs and specialized community supports.

The multi-year plan also included a commitment to plan for the closure of the remaining facilities.


In September 2004, the Minister of Community and Social Services announced the government's commitment to transform the community-based developmental services system to:

  • better meet the needs of individuals and families to make it more fair, equitable and sustainable for the future, and
  • phase out operations of the three remaining facilities by March 31, 2009:
    • Southwestern Regional Centre in Chatham-Kent (closed in October 2008)
    • Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls (closed in March 2009), and
    • Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia (closed in March 2009).

The closure of the final three facilities:

  • helped over 900 residents of the final three facilities transition to community living
  • fulfils the commitment made by the provincial government in 1987, and
  • supports the vision of full inclusion of Ontarians with a developmental disability in all aspects of society.

Closing these facilities completes the move from an institution-based system for people with a developmental disability to a community-based system of services and supports that promotes greater inclusion, independence and choice.


The Government of Ontario passed the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008. When this Act is proclaimed into force, the Developmental Services Act and its regulation will be repealed.

This Act recognizes that individuals with a developmental disability can live independently with the appropriate supports and that they and their families want more choice and control over the services and supports that they receive.

To better support community living for individuals with a developmental disability, the Act will set the framework for providing:

  • better service, so that individuals can get services and supports more easily and closer to home
  • more choice, so that individuals and families can get supports that fit their needs, and
  • fairness, so that everyone will be treated fairly across Ontario.


In March 2009, Ontario's last remaining Government-operated facilities for adults with a developmental disability closed.

Today, services and supports funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and delivered through community agencies include:

  • in-home and out-of-home respite
  • specialized community supports which assist people with a developmental disability to remain in their community
  • community participation supports, including the Passport Initiative, which provides people who have a developmental disability with exposure to a wide range of activities such as work, volunteer, leisure and recreation opportunities. Assistance with personal development is also provided so that individuals can achieve their goals for living as an adult in the community, and
  • community living supports and residential services which include supports to assist individuals to live independently, as well as 24-hour group living situations and Familyhome arrangements.

Ontario allocated over $1.57 billion in 2008/09 for developmental services and supports, including a variety of residential supports in the community for more than 15,000 individuals, community participation supports, respite, Passport and the Special Services At Home program. Over 47,000 individuals with a developmental disability receive Income Support from the Ontario Disability Support Program.


Learn more

The evolution of government policy and legislation:


About the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008.