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.

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.

For me, the testimony by Louise Bradley, CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, was one of the highlights of this week’s proceedings at the human rights inquiry. That’s why I was pleased when she was willing to be interviewed. We talk about mental health, the harm of living in an institution, stigma, and the benefits of community living. Louise was at one time heavily involved in the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, and we also talk about the folks there who have been conditionally discharged but can’t get the supportive housing they need. So they just stick around, sometimes for many years.

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.

Another day at the NS Human Rights Enquiry into the lack of supportive housing for people with disabilities. We learned that people conditionally discharged from the East Coast Forensic Hospital can’t leave because Community Services cannot provide them with the supportive housing options that they require. Waits can be longer than six years, averages are around 840 days.