Sunday, 19 May 2019

Many Nova Scotians with intellectual and physical disabilities continue to live in large institutions against their will, while others are being taken care of by ageing and senior parents. Affected people are saying enough is enough. We went to today’s press conference at Province House, and transcribed in full the powerful statements by Jeannie Whidden of People First Nova Scotia, and Jen Powley, of No More Warehousing.

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.

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.”

You are invited to the Community Forum hosted by the Disability Rights Coalition to learn about the current status of services for persons with disabilities and their families. Nova Scotia has the highest rate per capita of those living with a disability in Canada and is one of the last provinces who have large segregated institutions who warehouse people because of their disability.

Day two of Community Services deputy minister’s testimony at the human rights enquiry: When it comes to community living, government inaction is the operative word, and that hasn’t substantially changed with the end of the so-called moratorium on small options homes. Individuals continue to languish in large institutions, and parents continue to worry about what will happen to their loved ones when they die.

Community Services deputy minister Lynn Hartwell testified all day today at the human rights inquiry into the lack of community living options for people living with disabilities. We learned that very little has been accomplished since the department published its disability roadmap some four years ago. She’ll be back at it tomorrow, and so will the NS Advocate.

And another day at the human rights inquiry into the lack of supportive housing for people with disabilities. Two mothers talked about the horrors of institutionalization, in particular the circumstances at Quest in Lower Sackville. Wendy Lill mostly talked about policy issues relating to the disabilities roadmap, a government policy document written at that brief point in time when community advocates had some real hopes that things would get better, only to be disappointed once again.

Today’s update on the NS Human Rights Commission’s enquiry into the lack of supportive housing for people living with disabilities. We learn that their former supportive housing provider wanted the folks languishing at Emerald Hall to come home, and we hear one parent talk about her worries that at some point in time she will no longer be able to take care of her son.

Kimberly Smith, proud father of Brendon, a 28 year old man who is labeled as living with developmental disabilities, writes about a conversation he had with Joe Rudderham, the executive director of the Disability Support Programs at Community Services. The interview is included. “As for the developmentally challenged and elderly, we are definitely heading toward a monumental iceberg and time to act is running out. We do not have to crash and sink in poverty and illness… We can rise up and help each other prosper,” writes Smith.