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Open letter to Minister Kelly Regan requesting pandemic pay incentives for workers supporting Nova Scotians with intellectual disabilities

May 1, 2020

The Honourable Kelly Regan, Minister of Community Services,

Dear Minister, 

Community Homes Action Group (CHAG) and Disability Rights Coalition (DRC) strongly endorse the request sent to you on April 6 by Diverse Abilities Nova Scotia that employees working in the Disability Support Program sector be offered incentive compensation in recognition of their extraordinary efforts to support program participants during the COVID-19 epidemic. 

This sector has experienced a serious employee shortage for many years. The causes are complex and need to be addressed on many fronts, including wage renumeration, education, ongoing training, and issues with public attitudes. The job often involves strenuous physical work and can be emotionally exhausting. The people these workers support, Nova Scotians with intellectual disabilities, despite some progress with Human Rights legislation and the UNCRPD, are still often part of an out of sight, out of mind, powerless, voiceless community. The people working in the sector often feel powerless and unrecognized as well. 

At present, there are many hundreds of vulnerable people living in large and small congregate settings across the province, many with challenging physical and mental health needs. And there are chronic staff shortages being further exacerbated by the pandemic. So how do we go forward? 

We clearly need to support and protect the individuals with IDD. We need to guard their health, their safety, their human rights and their wellbeing. 

We believe one of the key ways to do this is to support the people caring for them. We need to recognize the essential role they are playing with our population during these uncertain and frightening Covid-19 times. 

We ask you to take immediate steps to provide pandemic pay incentives to these workers who are supporting our most vulnerable citizens. 

Sincerely, 

Wendy Lill, Community Homes Action Group (CHAG)  

Marty Wexler, Disability Rights Coalition, (DRC) 

cc. Tracey Taweel, Deputy Minister, Department of Community Services; Maria Medioli, Executive Director, DSP, Department of Community Services; Carol Ann Brennan, Executive Director, Nova Scotia Residential Agencies Association; Sheila Peck, Chair, Continuing Care Association of Nova Scotia; Joyce d’Entremont, Diverse Abilities Nova Scotia 

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