During this time period the philosophy of “deinstitutionalization” – the idea that people with disabilities should live in communities rather than institutions – gained popularity. The process of deinstitutionalization of psychiatric services grew in popularity in Canada as many disability organizations and advocates fought for the closure of institutions and the development of more community-centred care initiatives.1 In 1967 the Government of Alberta sponsored a study on Mental Health Services in Alberta.2 The study was published in 1969 and became known as the “The Blair Report.” The report findings shed light on issues of Alberta’s mental health services and recommended the eradication of large-scale care institutions.3 Alberta became known as a leader in deinstitutionalization, dropping from 4.1 hospital beds per 1000 people in 1965 to 0.7 beds per 1000 people in 1980.4 Success stories of people who had integration include the story of Doreen Befus. Doreen had been sterilized as a teenager and lived in the Michener Centre for about 40 years.5 In 1976 she was released began living semi-independently, at age 49.6 Eventually she lived fully independently and retained gainful employment as a nanny.7 However, some researchers have highlighted some drawbacks of deinstitutionalization. Geertje Boschma, for example, claimed that “homelessness among people with severe mental illness increased due to the intertwined consequences of poverty, lack of resources, and fragmentation of services.”8


1. Dustin Galer, “Disability Rights Movement in Canada,” Historica Canada, accessed June 4, 2018, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/disability-rights-movement/.

2. Sheila Gibbons, “Alberta government creates Blair Commission to study mental health services in Alberta,” eugenicsarchive.ca, accessed June 4, 2018, http://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/5260cf02c6813a546900001f.

3. Sheila Gibbons, “Alberta becomes a Canadian leader in replacing institutional care with community-based services for people with disabilities,” eugenicsarchive.ca, accessed June 4, 2018, http://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/53275707132156674b000288.

4. Ibid.

5. Erika Dyck, “Deinstitutionalization,” eugenicsarchive.ca, accessed June 4, 2018, http://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/encyclopedia/535eeb1a7095aa0000000219.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

Geertje Boschma, 2012, “Deinstitutionalization Reconsidered: Geographic and Demographic Changes in Mental Health Care in British Columbia and Alberta, 1950-1980,” no. 2: 223. ProjectMUSE, EBSCOhost (accessed August 17, 2018).


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