The concept of community living is great. Disabled people being given the right to live within the general community and to have the same right to work and live as everyone else. It is an ideal paradise.
But wait there is a problem. Community Living groups miss one minor little detail. What happens to those who can not manage this? What happens when some one has perhaps the mental age of 6 with no one in their family to care for them? What happens when that person is a full grown adult? Where do they go?
The answer to most of these questions now is JAIL. There are no facilities left that have the tools to deal with those who have absolutely no ability to care for themselves and have no one to do it for them. There are no facilities for those who through mental illness are so violent that their own family can not care for them anymore because they do not have the tools.
The problem is Canada Wide Community living associations have closed “institutions” which, there is no question, were not operated properly and were a problem. However in the process of removing the problems they forgot that there actually was a need for these facilities and, of those who lived in them, many now live homeless on the streets, are in Jail or are dead.
The problem is that Politics in Canada both at provincial levels and at the federal level is a game of black and white. No politician presently serving actually looks at the big picture when dealing with these types of programs and says “We have a problem and we are going to fix it” instead we hear “This is a nightmare these people are being abused and we will shut them all down” and 6 months later when they are asked how will we deal with these people who actually have no care, no where to go and are basically homeless and their reply is “They were being abused, what do you want? Us to put them back in there? This is the only solution.” And because the abuse was the big ticket media item, and the fact that they are now homeless, uncared for and a danger to not only themselves but also sometimes to others, is not so huge a media story, the politicians can ignore it “because the other way was wrong”
The truth is that it is a far “sexier” to completely close down a problem facility or industry then it is to clean up the mess. Cleaning up the mess takes years and politicians do not have years to make their mark, so in the black and white world of politics the solution to institutions became simply close them all or leave them as they are, because to them fixing the institutions and the problems that existed within them was not a viable solution, because there was no media attention to a fix that takes years, while there was hugely positive media attention to throwing people who had no means of caring for themselves onto the street to fend for themselves amongst the dealers, the pimps and the prostitutes. And this is what community living associations have brought us because they did not, and still do not see the damage that was done by wholesale closing facilities that cared for those who society itself could not care for.
These institutions had problems, They were to large, and abuse was rampant but these problems could have, and should have, been fixed. And yes those who could have lived a fairly normal life with some support should have been given that opportunity, but a full out closure has left no where but jail for those who have no ability or means to care for themselves.