Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled. Forced into LongTerm Care at 49, my sister with Down syndrome wants apology.

With the stroke of a pen, my disabled sister's human right to decide where she lives was wrongly taken away in 2013. In a heart-breaking move, Teresa who has Down syndrome, was "placed" against her wishes into a long-term care "nursing" home, by the Ontario health care system. Four days later, she was rescued by my 91-year old father who was "adamant" he did not want his daughter living in a nursing home. (Teresa came to live with me, her sister.) But then the nursing home called the police, in a shockingly callous and bizarre effort to force her back.  

See the presentation I made with Teresa, to the Ontario Government's Select Committee in January 2014: Teresa’s story: Crisis, Capacity and Courage. The Select Committee acknowledged in their July 2014 report, “Long-term care homes are pressured to accommodate young and middle-aged people with developmental disabilities without any medical need for this type of care or any training to support this group of clients.”

Since 2013, Teresa has been demanding a full apology from the Ontario government, the CCAC and the long-term care home. 

UPDATE JULY 29, 2016 - Close to Victory But Not Quite There...

Finally, the Ontario Government admits a mistake was made!
On July 22nd, 2016 after two and half years, and after more than 26,000 people told the Ontario Government that human rights should never be disabled, the Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins sent this brief statement of apology to Global News:

“I would like to apologize to Ms. Pocock and her family for her being placed in a seniors residence. All Ontarians deserve to be treated with respect and compassion as they navigate our system and that includes receiving care in an appropriate setting.”

Will Minister Hoskins now send his apology to Teresa in writing? And will he please admit what the mistakes were so they don't keep happening? We hope so because it would show respect to Teresa for this traumatic life-changing event, and it would help to protect others. We also request that Minister Hoskins replace his misleading euphemism “seniors residence” with the accurate term, “long-term care home”, which underlines how inappropriate the placement was. Teresa, at 49, was put into a long-term care home that specializes in "dementia and palliative care".

It was totally inappropriate for Teresa as she did not need that type of medical care. It was also a violation of her human rights as the BC Civil Liberties Association and seven other signatories emphasized in their July 12th letter to Minister Hoskins: BC Civil Liberties Association writes to Ontario Ministry of Health re: Violation of Teresa Pocock’s Human Rights

BCCLA wrote, “We believe and support Ms. Pocock’s statements that she did not want to be put into a nursing home.”

“We are gravely concerned that the government, through its actions, appears to condone the forced placement and mistreatment of developmentally-disabled adults.”

The BCCLA, Canadian Association for Community Living, Inclusion BC, Plan Institute, People First of Canada, Spectrum Society for Community Living, Vickie Cammack, and Al Etmanski have all joined together to send a clear message to the Ontario Government: Teresa Pocock’s forced admission to an Ontario long-term care home violated her human rights.

The BCCLA letter prompted Christina Stevens, Global News to do a two-part series. Stevens pressed Minister Hoskins for the apology on television. Watch: "More than 2,900 Ontarians with developmental disabilities live in long-term care facilities" 

Global's coverage shows that Teresa is just the tip of the iceberg -- and the government has known about this systemic problem for years. 

We ask the Ministry of Health to acknowledge the mistakes that were made in wrongly declaring Teresa incapable and putting her into long-term care against her will. We ask the Ontario Ministry of Health to correct their report to reflect the errors that occurred in Teresa’s case. 

By signing this petition you can help Teresa get an apology for the harm done to her -- even to this day, two and a half years later she talks about "danger day". We need a full apology from the Ontario government because this is not just about one person -- it's about standing up for and protecting the human rights of all people with disabilities. 

The truth is that if we had not rescued Teresa from the nursing home, she would have been living in an institution -- with no right to choose otherwise -- for the rest of her life. How could this happen in Canada? That's what Teresa and her supporters want to know. 

Teresa is not the only one being hurt. Thousands of developmentally disabled people are routinely being forced into inappropriate "care" across Canada and the USA.

This is wrong. And it is having a catastrophic effect on the lives of so many people like Teresa. 

We need to stand strong to protect the rights of developmentally disabled people. Please sign Teresa's petition, because human rights should never be disabled. Thank you in advance for your support!

P.S. Please further help Teresa by tweeting this petition #DisabilityRights

Related Stories:

2016 - More than 2,900 Ontarians with developmental disabilities live in long-term care facilities

2016 - Ontario woman forced into long-term care wants apology from provincial government

2016 - BC Civil Liberties Association writes to Ontario Ministry of Health re: Violation of Teresa Pocock’s Human Rights

2016 - Teresa's Book Launch and Art-show: "Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside"

2016 - Artist with Down syndrome written off as ‘incapable’ blooms in the Downtown Eastside

2016 - South Dakota Wrongly Puts Thousands in Nursing Homes, Government Says

2016 - Institution Watch: "Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled" by Franke James Institution Watch Spring 2016 Newsletter

2016 - Family Support Institute of BC: Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled -

Nowhere Else to Go: 2007 / Toronto Star  

Disabled Forced into Nursing Homes

"In 1987, The Arc of Illinois filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities forced into nursing homes who did not require nursing home care."  

To learn more about Teresa, please visit




This petition will be delivered to:
  • CEO, The CCAC-Toronto
    Stacey Daub
  • Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
    Hon. Dr Eric Hoskins
  • Premier of Ontario
    Kathleen Wynne
  • Ombudsman of Ontario
    Paul Dubé
  • Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
    Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
  • Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
    Honourable Carla Qualtrough

Franke James started this petition with a single signature, and now has 26,202 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.