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Ontario Apologizes to Former Residents of the Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centres

Archived Statement

Ontario Apologizes to Former Residents of the Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centres

Office of the Premier

Premier Kathleen Wynne issued the following statement today:

"If Ontario is to have a brighter, stronger future, we must - as a government and as a society - take responsibility for the wrongs of the past.

Today, we take responsibility for the suffering of those individuals who faced abuse and neglect while at the Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centres.

One of government's foremost responsibilities is to make sure all people are protected and safe. When that basic trust between the state and the people is broken, we are all diminished.

The provincially operated Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centres were homes for people with developmental disabilities opened at a time when there were few community supports for families in need.

Families of the residents of the Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centres trusted the government to care for their children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters. In too many cases, the government failed to uphold this trust.

Some residents were neglected and others were abused within the very system intended to care for them. Over generations, and under various governments, too many of these men, women, children and their families were deeply harmed.

As Premier, and on behalf of all of the people of Ontario, I offer an apology to the men, women and children of Ontario who were failed by a model of institutional care for people with developmental disabilities. The government takes responsibility for your suffering. We are sorry for your pain and loss, and the impact these experiences must have had on your faith in this province, and in your government.

We recognize that, as a society, we have a responsibility to do better.

Today, we no longer see people with developmental disabilities as "other." All individuals deserve support, respect and care. We strive to ensure people with developmental disabilities can live as independently as possible, and participate in all aspects of the community.

We commit to learning from the wrongs of the past and ensuring your painful stories inspire a fairer and more inclusive society.

Ontario closed the Southwestern Regional Centre in 2008 and the Rideau Regional Centre in 2009.

Plaques commemorating those who lived at Rideau and Southwestern will be erected near those Centres as a tribute to the men, women and children who lived there."