Inclusion Media release

Disability Rights Coalition media release: Government 10 year commitment to equality for people with disabilities in serious trouble

In 2013, the current government committed to closing institutions and providing community based living supports for all persons with disabilities within 10 years—by the end of 2023. It was  all set out in the Roadmap—a plan to community inclusion drafted jointly by the Province and  disability rights advocates, and endorsed by then Premier Stephen McNeil and his government. 

With just over two years left, today’s DRC report makes clear that not only has progress toward  inclusion been glacial but, in several respects, there has been serious back-sliding on the  Province’s commitment to the Roadmap’s vision of community inclusion for persons who have  experienced decades-long segregation and discrimination in accessing the services they need to  live in the community. 

While the present government describes itself as the champion of ‘equity, diversity and  inclusion’ for Nova Scotians (“Our Party puts equity and inclusion at the heart of everything we  do.”), the 2013 commitment to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities by 2023 is now in  doubt. The promise made in 2013 sounds hollow; equity and equality for people with disabilities  in Nova Scotia have, once again, not only been pushed to the back burner, they are literally out  of sight.  

Today’s DRC Report: Call to Action: The Road to Inclusion and Equality for People with  Disabilities: Government Accountability on the Roadmap—Choice, Equality and Good Lives in  Inclusive Communities (https://www.disabilityrightscoalitionns.ca/road-to-inclusion-by-2023-come with-us/ ) demonstrates that since the Roadmap’s release in 2013,  

• The Nova Scotia government, through its Disability Supports Program, is assisting fewer  people with disabilities with residential supports right now than in 2013/14 when it  committed to the Roadmap, dropping from 5,184 to 5,033 people

• Since the Roadmap’s release in 2013, there has been a sharp increase in numbers on the  Disability Supports Program waitlists, going from 1099 in 2014 to 1,915 in 2021, an  increase of more than 74%. 

• The official Disability Supports Program Policy Manual, which restricted all admissions  to institutions to ‘temporary admissions’ in preparation for their closure has been recently  (May 2021) been removed from official government policy; 

Nova Scotia continues to send people with disabilities indefinitely to institutions as their  only available option for accessing social assistance. 

But, if there’s a real commitment to equity and community inclusion for all, there’s still time! 

There is still a 30-month window for the Province to meet its Roadmap commitments. To do so,  however, requires immediate and concrete government action that places ‘equity and inclusion at the heart of everything the Province does.’ Today’s DRC Report spells out what is required for  the Province to keep its promise. 

“The numbers in the Report tell the story in a way that cuts through the political &  bureaucratic rhetoric—the Province is on a path to, once again, push people with  disabilities into the shadows. That is neither equity nor inclusion. And it is certainly not  respecting their human rights.”—Claire McNeil, legal counsel for the Disability Rights  Coalition  

-and- 

“As a person with disabilities who has felt at first hand the effects of government policy  that exclude me from the supports I need to live in the community and who has been  segregated and excluded because of my disability I am calling on the Province to do what  is right by 2023 by closing institutions and ending waitlists.”—Vicky Levack 

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