They discussed the importance of forward-thinking when it comes to finding a holistic approach to supporting people and their families. This would include, among other things, improved transitions, integrating funding and inclusive education.

He explained that Community Living Ontario is looking at a variety of ways to reduce the stress on families and make it easier for people to live their lives.

One big stressor is that mothers remain the typical primary caregiver to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Often out of necessity, one parent, (typically the mother) must stay home, whereas they would otherwise likely be working and contributing to the family income. Chris explained that this contributes to an increased vulnerability to marriages, mental stress and poverty.

He gave the example of the Oak Park Family Group to explain how natural supports, municipal rent subsidies and provincial government supports can be leveraged and combined to enable people to live typical lives in their community.

He also shared Community Living Ontario’s report on the barriers to inclusive education entitled: “If Inclusion Means Everyone, Why Not Me?”. These barriers set the stage for further segregation and stigma as people go through their lives. He added that inclusive education was a key factor in supporting people and families, particularly with transition-aged youth.

When it comes to reviewing the sector, Chris reiterated the importance of engaging with all stakeholders, which includes people with disabilities, their families and the organizations which provide supports. Without the voices of these people, the review of the sector would be missing some key feedback. The absence of these voices would render a review incomplete and could have detrimental long-term impacts for Ontarians.

As the meeting closed, Chris thanked her for attending the Huronia commemorative statue unveiling last August. Dunlop said it was important to honour the victims and that the event was very moving.

She was very receptive to Community Living Ontario’s thoughts and perspective. Dunlop and her team asked informed questions and look forward to continuing the conversation.