Friday, 26 April 2019

The Disability Rights Coalition is collecting signatures to an open letter to Premier Stephen McNeil, asking his government to stop warehousing people with disabilities and focus on investing in community living options instead. Alternatively, the group is asking people who are institutionalized and/or waiting for a community living space to file an individual human rights complaint.

News release: Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of CACL, explained, “When it comes to pursuing justice for Canadians who are or have been institutionalized, CACL will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes. Even if it takes 1,500 individual complaints – as these rights are secured in the CRPD, which Canada has ratified with Nova Scotia’s agreement.”

NS Human Rights Board chair Walter Thompson ruled that the Nova Scotia government has indeed discriminated against Beth MacLean, Sheila Livingstone and Joey Delaney, three people who were institutionalized against their will. When I first heard the news I thought it was a wonderful victory. Now that I have read the decision I think it mostly sucks, but it isn’t all bad.

Here is why.

Imagine being 28-years-old and not being able to decide what you are going to eat for dinner—or breakfast or lunch. Imagine having to live with people who scare or threaten you. Imagine living down a hallway from someone who sexually assaulted you, and you are told not to make a fuss. All this can and does happen to people with severe physical disabilities who must live in nursing homes in Nova Scotia. Judy Haiven on the need for community living options for people with severe physical disabilities.

Faith Cronin calls on Stephen McNeil to finally address the lack of community living opportunities for people with disabilities. “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.”

A Nova Scotia Human Rights enquiry reached a crucial stage last Wednesday after closing statements were delivered by the Province of Nova Scotia, the respondent in the case. If the enquiry chair finds that the way government deals with housing needs of people with disabilities is indeed discriminatory, then, and only then, will there be a second phase, to determine  to what extent the Province must make changes in its policies and activities.