Gus Reed on Bill 59, the legislation that sets out to make Nova Scotia equitable, inclusive and diverse. So far it’s been more empty words than substance, Gus believes. “That’s why we need a seat at the table, not a place at the take-out window.”
Warren (Gus) Reed: My present complaint against the Human Rights Commission and the ministries of health, environment and justice goes to the heart of government indifference to the needs of people with disabilities. Being disabled in Nova Scotia is no cakewalk. There is discrimination at every turn. Employment, health, income, education, transportation – you name it – people with disabilities face discrimination.
“I wrote about inclusion before, but I had relatively benign feelings back then. Now I find myself at age 70 and pretty annoyed.” Warren (Gus) Reed. Also, there’s a quiz.
Joey Delaney, the Nova Scotia citizen who suffered terribly as a consequence of being inappropriately warehoused at the NS Hospital, was awarded a mere $100,000 by NS Human Rights inquiry chair J. Walter Thompson. After all, he found Joey Delaney “so disabled that payment to him of a very large sum will not have a greater impact on his life than a moderate sum.” Such ableist reasoning makes Warren (Gus) Reed very angry.
Warren (Gus) Reed: “I’m gonna go ‘way out on a limb here and venture to say that none of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commissioners is a person with a transformative disability. The odds are in my favor. Very few people with disabilities are appointed to Nova Scotia’s 135 Agencies, Boards and Commissions (ABCs).”
Warren (Gus) Reed; “I wonder when Strang got hand washing religion. Four years ago, wheelchair users asked Strang to weigh in on enforcement of the province’s food safety regulation requiring “washroom facilities for staff and washroom facilities for the public available in a convenient location” in restaurants. He was indifferent:”
“I’m sure the board is 100% nice people, but the evidence is that they fail at most things,” writes accessibility activist Gus Reed. How will they ever know what it is like being sick for a week while waiting for Access-a-Bus, to be without a family physician, to depend on public transportation, to live in a pharmacy desert?
Warren (Gus) Reed is still waiting for the province to follow up on the September 2018 NS Human Rights Decision that restaurants must provide wheelchair access to washrooms. A recent case of Norovirus while traveling in the US made the risks wheelchair users are exposed to all the more real.
Accessibility advocate Warren (Gus) Reed on the importance of not giving up when bureaucrats and politicians feed you a steady diet red herrings.
In a decision issued a year ago a Nova Scotia Human Right Board of Inquiry ordered the Department of the Environment in no uncertain terms to enforce food safety regulations that make it mandatory for restaurants to provide wheelchair-accessible washrooms. Almost a year later plaintiffs are still waiting for actual changes.