Wednesday, 19 June 2019

“In the end I can say that what I have learned about myself is how incredibly strong I am, because I have to be,” said disability rights advocate Joanne Larade in February at a panel on the lack of suitable housing for people with severe disabilities. At the panel she explained what it is like to find yourself, at the age of 42, living among people with dementia, many twice your age. Joanne passed away early last week.

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.