Dear Honourable Stephen McNeil,
I am writing due to my concern of the mass institutionalization of people with disabilities in our province.
In a recent CBC interview Joe Rudderham (executive director of the province’s Disability Support Program) mentioned that there were just over 500 people institutionalized in Nova Scotia, when that is far from the truth. According to a document from the Department of Community Services, Disability Support Program in 2017 there are 955 beds in the ARCs, RCFs and RRCs across the province. And virtually every bed is full.
According to the Roadmap for Transforming the Nova Scotia Services to Persons with Disabilities Program of 2013, which your government claims to support, the large institutions are to be closed by 2023. In 2018 your government announced the creation of eight new small option homes. Given that there are near 1500 people on the waitlist and approximately another 1000 currently living in institutions, in order to meet the roadmap requirements, there needs to be 100 new small options homes every year, in addition to enhanced independent living options for individuals where it is the better option.
The current situation for people with disabilities is in complete violation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, article 19. The human rights of Nova Scotians needs to be protected and you have the authority and responsibility to insist it happens.
People with disabilities have faced terrible exclusion in Nova Scotia for centuries. At this time, virtually every province in Canada and every country in the developed world have taken the necessary steps to deinstitutionalize and support disabled people to live dignified and meaningful lives in the community.
To our great shame, Nova Scotia has continued to profoundly exclude and discriminate against persons with disabilities. I call on you to immediately take the bold and ethical actions necessary to end this shameful Nova Scotian legacy.
As a resident of your riding, I would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience.
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