What Social Inclusion Really Means
In 2006, the Ontario government said that its “fundamental vision is to support people to live as independently as possible in the community and to support the full inclusion of Ontarians with disabilities in all aspects of society”.
In 2008, the Ontario government passed the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act.
The 2008 Social Inclusion Act was written before Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), so falls short of using the language of rights and obligations of government to provide the necessary supports for members of society labelled with intellectual disabilities.
The New Brunswick Association for Community Living identified the benefits of social inclusion.
Social inclusion means that people:
- Experience a sense of belonging
- Are accepted (for who they are) within their communities
- Have valued roles in the community
- Are actively participating in the community
- Are involved in activities based on their personal preferences
- Have social relationships with others whom they chose and share common interests
- Have friends
The relationship between social inclusion and quality of life was the subject of a research paper by the University of New Brunswick Urban and Community Studies Institute.
Inclusion Canada is a national organization focussing on social inclusion of individuals with an intellectual disability. They recognize that building inclusive communities takes a collective approach – laws, policies, advocacy, individuals, and families, taking a stand on a day to day basis to define and reinforce inclusive practices.
We have some work to do in Ontario to ensure that our laws, policies, and support infrastructure for individuals with an impairment respect the UNCRPD and focus on social inclusion.