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.
At present, few housing options exist for Nova Scotian’s with severe physical disabilities. In order to receive round-the-clock care, people with severe physical disabilities are forced to move into a nursing home if they cannot afford to live independently.
Professor Archie Kaiser’s moving tribute to Dave Kent, one-time People First Nova Scotia president and tireless activist on behalf of people labelled with intellectual disabilities and others who have been marginalized and stigmatized.
“…we have to fight our own battles. The government would still be gleefully discriminating against us if we didn’t sue them,” writes disability activist Paul Vienneau.
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.”
On the International Day for Persons with a Disability Paul Vienneau takes stock. Some progress, especially in the crafting of Bill 59, and a long way to go, he writes. “It’s as if the government thinks the work is done now. But change doesn’t come from from legislation. The legislation is merely the starting point.”
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.