Brief History about Independent Living at a Glance

CILT operates on the philosophy of the Independent Living movement which was developed in response to traditional rehabilitation services models. Our aim is to develop and implement dignified social services that empower individuals rather than create dependencies. We encourage people with disabilities to take control of their own lives by exercising their right to examine options, make choices, take risks and even make mistakes.

If you want to know more about our history, please visit the PowerPoint Presentation.

For those of you who do not have Microsoft PowerPoint installed on your computer, you may download a viewer to see the presentation.



Formation and Incorporation:

A Community Committee comprised of key advocacy and disability service representatives was formed in the early years to look at what was needed in Toronto to make things work for people with disabilities. There was a myriad of services but no-one knew about them;

Eventually a needs survey was conducted verifying that what disabled people Toronto wanted was an Independent Living Resource Centre;

Until CILT became incorporated, the Community Occupational Therapy Association (COTA) was our sponsoring agency. Even once we had Corporate status, Health and Welfare Canada needed to be convinced that we could be a financially accountable organization;

We then contracted an accounting firm called Progressive Accounting Services which had an impressive track record of accounting for community-based non-profit agencies;

By 1986, we were completely independent of COTA;


New projects begin – such as surveying the network of Literacy Programs in Toronto for Access resulting in a report; the Radio Connection began, as a means of getting the word out to ever increasing numbers of often isolated people with disabilities;  new funding by City of Toronto, Health and Welfare Canada;


Woodeden Consumer Conference: Birth of Direct Funding program (DF); for the first time there was serious attention paid to the idea of giving people with disabilities a grant of money so they could hire, train and manage their own attendants rather than provide money to an agency that was supposed to dispatch attendants to People With Disabilities;

In response to inquiries for attendant services throughout Ontario the first edition of the Attendant Services Directory was produced;

The first ever TV show focused on disability issues in cooperation with CBC. Eventually this show evolved into MOVING ON which is still viewed on CBC Television today;


Health and Welfare Canada cutbacks begin. This forces CILT to find other sources of Funding for core programs;

The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services funds the Independent Living Skills Training Program offering stable support for this program;

CILT Newsletter redesigned and launched.


1st Edition of Independent living and participation in Research – a critical analysis published and The Literacy Book published;  Youth Connection started;


The Directory of Accessible Restaurants was developed;

24 Hour Newsline was established to ensure that print disabled individuals still had the means to ensure access to information;

Direct Funding in Ontario Pilot (DF) begins; A tri-ministry initiative (Health, Community and Social Services and Citizenship) along with significant disability community players and operated by CILT;


Full United Way Membership granted giving us credibility in a whole new forum;

Award Winning Abuse Prevention Video produced and Youth and Disability Abuse Prevention project completed;


Project Information Centre (PIC) operated for MOH transferred to CILT from another local disability organization that ended. PIC coordinates applications for managed attendant services in Toronto.

CILT By-laws updated.


First Official Evaluation of the DF Pilot was done by the  Roeher Institute. The results of this evaluation were extremely positive showing that direct choice, control and flexibility of attendant services contributed positively to health status;

4th Edition of Attendant Service Directory produced as well as the Annotated Abuse/Prevention Bibliography;


DF gets full program status approved by MOH;

CILT United Way project funding received to expand the Parenting with a Disability Network and publish a resource Directory for Parents with a Disability.

2nd  Edition of Independent living and Participation in Research – a critical analysis published


Human Rights Policy (anti-discrimination and harassment policy and procedures) developed and implemented;

The Parenting Book for Persons with a Disability published;

United Way funding received to develop operational model for Nurturing Assistance.

CILT is a participant in the HRDC – Navigating the Waters project; an employment project for people with disabilities;


Employment project (HRDC funded) Navigating the Waters launched;

UW funding received to develop operational model for Nurturing Assistance.


CILT developed a new system for keeping internal program activity statistics;

Anti-Racism implementation plan developed;

Nurturing Assistance: A Guide to Providing Physical Assistance to Parents with a disability  published;


New website (www.cilt.ca) launched;

DF Program – massive recruitment drive reaches 700 persons;

Project Information Centre becomes the central clearing house for all applications for managed attendant services in Toronto;


DF Program – Full ~ 700 participants in Ontario;

New on-line resources developed i.e. the  “Directory of Attendant Services in Ontario (formerly the Greenbook)”; and the Attendant/Consumer Job Roster-CAR (Consumer Attendant Roster);

New Library system developed.


An expansion is announced for managed attendant services in Toronto which significantly increases the workload for PIC;

At our 20th Anniversary AGM CILT launches the Consumer Attendant Roster or CAR (a website matching site for those looking for attendants with those looking for work),  the Student Attendant Service Fund (SASF) a contingency fund established to enable persons with disabilities who require attendant services at College or University to attend College or University;


New website launched August 15th 2005;

Data-base reform project (Wizard – i.e. web based data base program) developed to improve capacity and ease of statistics creation and analysis.


New data-base system implemented.


Gateway to Cancer Screening Project begins, and Human Right Monitoring Project begins.


Safe Engaged Environment Disability begins; moved to new office location in December of 2008.


CILT marked its 25th anniversary with two significant new initiatives.

One; We entered into a partnership with the Access to Entertainment (A2E) program allowing the first 1000 disabled people in the greater Toronto Area to have the $20 fee waived to get or renew their A2E card.

This was made possible through a donation of the Dickson Play Fund which CILT administers to A2E.

We also launched the Rebel Wall initiative.

We produced several profiles of pioneers from our community who are no longer with us as a reminder to younger or newer people with disabilities the legacy that these folks left behind.

CILT also marked the 15th anniversary of the Direct Funding program.

A special event was held at the Downtown Sheraton to recognize this significant milestone.


CILT recognizes the 20th Anniversary of the Diners Club.
Formal Strategic Planning process begins.

Partnership with CAMD, 20th Anniversary of Diners Club, Parenting with a Disability Conference, Accreditation by Independent Living Canada for a further three years, Strength-Based Parenting Initiative (SPIN) established.


Safe Engaged Environments – Disability (SEED) concludes and final report launched, Round Table on Aging established, DF becomes a LHIN rather than a MOHLTC portfolio.


CILT designates Award for the Inclusive Design Competition;

Safe Toronto Action Now-Disability (STAND) project begins;

Final Gateways phase II report launched;

Disability and Rights for Citizens (DRC) project begins;

Oral History Project begins;

3-day conference held on Aging with a Disability, Parenting with a Disability, and Direct Funding.


Stand project ends;

Disability Rights for Citizens project ends;

Safe Inclusive Toronto Streets project begins;

Civic Literacy I project begins;

Website launched directed at Direct Funding (DF) Self-Managers (www.dfontario.ca) and applicants in Ontario;

DF receives a substantial budget increase from the Ontario Government;

Partnership with Ryerson University for the Reimagining Parenting project begins.


Safe Inclusive Toronto Streets project ends;

Civic Literacy I ends and Civic Literacy II project begins;

CILT takes new approach to its newsletter;

Partnership with Ryerson University for the Reimagining Parenting project continues;

DF receives a second substantial budget increase from the Ontario Government;

CILT celebrates its 30th Anniversary;

Partnership with York University/Disabled Persons Rights International for the Expanding the Circle project begins.


CILT coordinates a multi-faceted project with Attendant Service Providers and the Community Care Access Centre to address an Attendant Service Strategy for the TCLIN Area resulting in a final report – Coordinated Attendant Service Action Strategy (CASAS), available on request;

CILT partners with Access Independent Living to stage focus groups and launch final study of the ‘Aging with a Disability’ report;

Civic Literacy II ends;

Partnership with York University/Disabled Persons Rights International for the Expanding the Circle project continues.

New newsletter, CILT Now, launched.

CILT works with community partners to invite over 150 persons with disabilities, their friends and families to the Federal Election Forum on Accessibility and Disability at Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre


New position, Associate Director, created;

The Project Information Centre (PIC) name is changed to the Attendant
Service Application Centre (ASAC);

Expansion of ASAC results in creation of 1 new position;

Parenting with a Disability Network is revitalized;

Favourable third party evaluation of the Self-Managed Direct Funding (for attendant services) occurs;

Joint Summer Picnic with ERDCO and Springtide;

Inaugural Helen Henderson Literary Award granted;

CILT logo redesign.


Entered into a collaborative with Bellwoods re: ASAC waiting list;

Joint Summer Picnic with ERDCO and Springtide;

2nd Helen Henderson Literary Award granted;

New Website Launched;

Collaborative with Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), Balance for Blind Adults, Canadian Hearing Society (CHS), Citizens With Disabilities – Ontario (CWDO), CNIB GTA, Magnet, National Education Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) to acknowledge International Day of Disabled Persons;

Enters into contract with Fireweed Media to digitize all D-Net programs and begin to plan a marketing and distribution strategy;

Continued DF expansion including the creation of 3 new positions;

Collaborative with Springtide to present the Spin Conference;

Planning begins for the creation of the Vic Willi legacy fund;

CILT awarded another 5 years accreditation from Independent Living Canada.