November 25, 2011

Human Rights settlement confirms the right to choose

A human rights mediated settlement, which began as a complaint by Community Living – Manitoba (CLM) against the Government of Manitoba, the Executive Director of the Manitoba Development Centre (MDC) and The Public Trustee, has resulted in balancing the rights of people with disabilities.

The human rights complaint dealt with CLM’s concerns regarding the slow progress being made in placing individuals living at the Development Centre into the community. 

After a year of detailed human rights investigation, the Manitoba Human Rights Board of Commissioners directed that the parties take part in mediation facilitated by the Human Rights Commission. The intense mediation and the final settlement reveal that diligence and hard work by everyone at the table can result in change.

“As each party brought its own perspective to the issue of institutionalization, the mediator took a measured and practical approach,” Jerry Woods, Chairperson of the Manitoba Human Rights Board of Commissioners adding that, “alleged systemic discrimination complaints are complex and require more time but in the end, the efforts are always worth it.”

The Government of Manitoba has agreed to move 49 people on the transition list from the MDC into the community over the next three years.  This, and future placements, will be closely monitored by a committee including interested parties and the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.   

Although the Government agreed that community living is a better option, the settlement also recognizes that everyone has the right to an informed choice, including those individuals and families, who at this point, prefer to live at the MDC.  For the first time however, the agreement does give CLM the opportunity to present MDC residents and their families other community living options including the opportunity to visit and experience various community living settings.

According to Mr. Woods the principle that guided the settlement is found in The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It recognizes the “importance for persons with disabilities of their individual autonomy and independence, including the freedom to make their own choices.”

For more information please contact

Patricia Knipe
Communications Director
Manitoba Human Rights Commission