A new report by the Disability Rights Coalition shows that earlier commitments to do away with large institutions and provide supports for community-based living are being abandoned. It’s not too late to turn things around though.
Media release: In 2013, the current government committed to closing institutions and providing community based living supports for all persons with disabilities within 10 years—by the end of 2023. With just over two years left, today’s DRC report makes clear that not only has progress toward inclusion been glacial but, in several respects, there has been serious back-sliding on the Province’s commitment.
27 institutionalized residents of Harbourside Lodge, an adult residential centre in Yarmouth, will move into community settings. We speak with Donnie MacLean, president of People First Nova Scotia, and Patricia Neves, executive director of the NS association for Community Living to rejoice while also putting this move in perspective.
“The way that we’re looking at it, regardless of whether there’s four residents or 40 or 400, you’re taking children away from their families. What the press release says is that it will house children from two to 18 years old. No two year old should be removed from their family. No parent wants to have their child sent to live somewhere else, they will only agree when there are no alternatives provided, says Patricia Neves, Acting Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Association for Community Living.
With so many people on a waitlist for community-based living opportunities, the eight small option homes the government has committed to just don’t cut it, writes Wendy Lill of the Community Homes Action Group.
“The current government adopted the Roadmap Report and a 10-year time frame for significantly increasing community-based supported living options while decreasing reliance on large institutions. So far, however, the allocation of resources from government needed to create community capacity has been woefully inadequate. Wait lists for services continue to grow – from 1100 in 2015 to 1300 in 2017 to nearly 1500 last year. This is because the badly needed investments by government have not been forthcoming.”
Nine months ago disability activist Jen Powley presented a proposal to Community Services for a four-bedroom unit with shared-attendant care in a new mixed-use building on Gottingen Street. This unit would keep me and three other young adults out of a nursing home at a cost comparable with that of housing them in a long-term care facility. She’s still waiting for a response.
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.”