"Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements."
~ Napoleon Hill

Thursday, October 17, 2019

"Where Is This Nova Scotia Legal Representation Kit of Which You Speak?"

No apologies this time for the length of time I've went without posting - I simply don't have the time for apologies. And, yes, I do realize how sad that sounds ...

However, realizing there's something I have been meaning to pass on to you for the past few months, I thought I better do so now.


The rumours of the death of the Nova Scotia Legal Representation Kit have been greatly exaggerated. By which I mean I have been making a concerted effort to (as much as possible) work on the Kit every Sunday for the past few months.

Yes, I said "effort", not "have been", but we all know what life is like. I am, however, committed to (if at all possible*) creating a user-friendly self-help Kit for families seeking representation of a loved in Nova Scotia.

Looking back, it literally took me a few years to create the Nova Scotia Legal Guardianship Kit, working on it in my "spare time", so to speak. And that was before I returned to practice. No, I don't expect this revamp make-over Kit to take that long to complete but it's definitely not something that can be quickly or lightly done.

So, yes, it's going to take a while. But I am committed to do all I can when I can.

* "If at all possible", meaning that I am not 100% positive that it is possible to create a useful self-help Kit with respect to applying for legal representation in Nova Scotia. But, if it is possible (given the requirements of the new legislation), it will be done.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Keep Calm and FaceBook On

It has definitely proven a lot more difficult to keep up with blogging since I've returned to practice as a disability lawyer, but do not fear; A Primer on Special Needs and the Law is not going anywhere.

I know this blawg provides a valuable service for the disability community and yes, I actually do enjoy blogging (not that you would know it by the significant decrease in posting over the past few years). It's here to stay.

However, I would like to point people to my FB page, where you will find posts of a somewhat more regular nature. Notice I didn't say you would find daily, weekly or even monthly posts, just somewhat more regular posting.

My FB posts for today and tomorrow, for example, both deal with articles I recently came across in a legal newsletter. Once upon a time, at least one of those articles would have been turned into a blog post. But alas, time is short so I do what I can.

On another note, no, I have most assuredly not forgotten about the much-promised revamped Nova Scotia Adult Representation Kit. It's just that I've been spending more time actually applying for representation on behalf of my clients than reworking the product, which, depending on your point of view could be a very good/bad thing.

And, should you require more, you can always contact me through the MMC Legal Services site. I am always happy to chat.

* Yeah, I know, my apologies for the post's title. It was either that or "When in Doubt, FaceBook". 
The lesser greater of two evils, perhaps?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

All Hail the New Leader: Disability Support Program

I stumbled across this by accident on the Disability Support Program website. Very, very interesting. Of course, whether it will actually mean anything for the disability community's point of view remains to be seen.

I can tell you, however, that I recently met with Maria Medioli, who has taken over Joe Rudderham's position as Executive Director of the Disability Support Program. And I must say that I was positively impressed - which is not an easy feat with this long-term cynical parent/ disability lawyer.

You might remember that it was Ms. Mediolia that recently commented to the effect that parents and caregivers should contact staff at the DCS, who will "will bend over backwards to support families as best they can."

I must admit that when I first read that, I rolled my eyes, shook my head and wondered why the more things change, the more they stay the same. And that, as they say, was that.

Or at least it was until I actually spoke with Ms. Medioli in person (as part of a small group of families). The conversation lasted close to two hours and she seemed very open and honest in her answers/comments. To say it was a pleasant surprise would be a very large understatement.

So, let's put it this way, Mr. Rudderham and I never really hit it off from the first day we met but I got a very different, very positive feeling from Ms. Medioli.*

Never fear, though; I remain somewhat cynical. After all, does anyone remember the story of the former Student Services Coordinator for the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board who sounded like God's gift to parents whenever she spoke in public but was pretty much the polar opposite when a family actually had to advocate on behalf of their child?

Whether some people start from the right place but quickly get sucked up and corrupted by the system or  are simply very good at "playing the game" (generally to the detriment of individuals with special needs and their family members), I take very little at face value.

But I will give Ms. Medioli a chance to show that she not only talks the talk, but actually walks the walk. Maybe you should, too.

* Ironically, some might say, at the end of our meeting, Ms. Medioli commented that it had went much better than she feared though it would. Skeptic meet Skeptic.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Canada's Record on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Last month, Canada hosted the United Nations Special Rapporteur [an independent expert who reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, and advises on progress, opportunities and challenges encountered in the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide] on the rights of persons with disabilities. And she had lots of interest to say.

I'm going to highlight a few areas in this post, those of particular interest to me. However I strongly encourage you to read the entire document. Yes, it's lengthy but definitely worth the time.

Nevertheless during my visit I have noticed that discussions about the rights of persons with disabilities are still framed in terms of social assistance, rather than from a human rights-based approach. ... Therefore, more proactive governmental responses are needed to ensure systemic change and take away from individuals the burden of initiating lengthy and onerous legal procedures to achieve the recognition and enjoyment of their rights.
I also noted a disconnection between the State’s commitment to inclusion in legislation and policies, and everyday implementation in practice, reflected in long waiting time and lack of services for students with disabilities and their families, putting them under significant emotional and financial pressure. ...
I would like to remind the federal, provincial and territorial governments that the obligation to provide procedural accommodation to persons with disabilities in all legal proceeding, as established in article 13 of the CRPD, is distinct from the obligation to provide reasonable accommodation, as the first is not subjected to the test of undue hardship.

In addition, I am very concerned about the overrepresentation of persons with disabilities, particularly those belonging to indigenous or other minority communities, in both prisons and the juvenile justice system. I have also received alarming information that persons with psychosocial disabilities are diverted to mental health courts for minor offences where they are subjected to higher penalties and stricter regimes.
I am extremely concerned about the lack of comprehensive responses to guarantee the access of persons with disabilities to the support they need to live independently in their communities. Whereas legislation, services and programmes vary across provinces and territories, generally access to support is not considered as a right, but rather as a social assistance programme dependent on the availability of services.

... persons with disabilities have limited access to different forms of support (including income support, home support, and respite centers), experiencing long waiting time up to several years. While some pilot projects have shown their potential to transform service provision (e.g., the initiatives to provide personalized direct funding), the overall identification, systematization and scaling-up of such initiatives remain a challenge.

I am extremely concerned about the implementation of the legislation on medical assistance in dying from a disability perspective.... I have further received worrisome claims about persons with disabilities in institutions being pressured to seek medical assistance in dying, and practitioners not formally reporting cases involving persons with disabilities. I urge the federal government to investigate these complaints and put into place adequate safeguards to ensure that persons with disabilities do not request assistive dying simply because of the absence of community-based alternatives and palliative care.
Now go read the rest. Trust me.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

NS Family Fights for Future of Son with Disabilities

This video is making its way around FB with good reason.

It is heartbreaking and a true rendition of what is happening in Nova Scotia right now, particularly to those with more severe challenges, such as Brendon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Representation: Vulnerability Just Ahead?

The following is an excerpt from a recent email to a doctor explaining why Representation can be so crucial for higher-functioning individuals. Please pay particular attention to the last paragraph:
The legislation defines “capacity” as “the ability, with or without support, to
  • understand information relevant to making a decision; and
  • appreciate the reasonably foreseeable consequences of making or not making a decision including, for greater certainty, the reasonably foreseeable consequences of the decision to be made.
In my experience, it is often the second component that is the real sticking point. The simplest example is, perhaps, a child’s ball rolling across the road. Although the child can show his want/need to retrieve the ball at any cost, none of us would allow him to simply run into the road because we understand what the child cannot; namely, the very real risk (and potentially severe consequences) of being hit by a vehicle.
A more apropos example might be a challenged young adult meeting (and perhaps developing a form of relationship with) an individual in the community or elsewhere, who then asks our young adult to go somewhere or do something with them. Given that executive functioning deficits cut through every aspect of a person’s life, the issue becomes the young adult’s ability to think through the potential consequences of the decision he must now make. If, for example, the other individual is a stranger or you and I would see that what that person is proposing is illegal or potentially unwise or even dangerous, [unless a legal Representative has been appointed], no one would have the ability to intervene.
I see it much less as us imposing our value judgement as to what might constitute a “good" decision in the circumstances as recognizing that, whatever any one of us might ultimately decide, we at least have the ability to (if we choose) think forward as to potential consequences; whereas, adults in [this] situation simply do not (and likely will never) have this same ability.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Legal Representation in Nova Scotia: A Treatise [Part i

We ended last year by taking a look at the history of adult guardianship in Nova Scotia and a very quick overview of the new legislation. You will recall that in October of 2017, I also gave an interview to CBC as to my thoughts on the (then) proposed legislation. We will now take a closer look at the Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act, its requirements and what it all means for families.

By the end of this month, I will have (hopefully successfully) completed my first application for legal representation under the Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act. And I must tell you that the paperwork required is definitely more complex  then before.

As many of you know my plan was is to modify the Nova Scotia Legal Guardianship Kit so that it complies with the new legislation in order to ensure families continue to have access to a cost-effective way to apply for guardianship representation.

If, by chance, you feel that you picked up on some ambiguity in that last sentence, you are correct.

First, a confession of sorts. I have learned three things over the past year:
  • it will take more than a few (or even several) tweaks to turn the Nova Scotia Legal Guardianship Kit into the Nova Scotia Adult Representation Kit
  • a completely new self-help Kit is required to comply with the new legislation; and
  • I honestly don't know how long  it will take to create and test-drive (or if it is even possible to create, for that matter) a new useful Kit.
Although it pains me to say this, I remain committed to helping families approach the legal representation process without incurring the cost of a lawyer if at all possible (or, at the very least, in a way that costs can be minimized).

But let's put that issue aside for now and look at some of the changes made to the process of obtaining guardianship representation in Nova Scotia.

As an aside, just in case you were wondering, a treatise 
is defined as:
a systematic exposition or argument in writing including a methodical discussion of the facts and principles involved and conclusions reached
Shall we begin?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Community Living Month ... Who Knew?


October is Community Living Month!

For 64 years the family voice has guided the work of NSACL, and we are committed to ensuring that individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families have the support they require to live full and inclusive lives in their community. Having access to all that our communities offer means every citizen, regardless of their disability, can choose how they live their life. Community living can mean having the ability to choose your school, where you work, where you live, and where you hang out with your friends. The opportunity for every person to engage in a full and inclusive life impacts us all and shapes our community. We are celebrating Community Living Month by asking people:
“What does community living mean to you?”

People from Nova Scotia and several other provinces have shared their responses to this question. We have heard from first voices, students, families and other Nova Scotians such as, MP Andy Fillmore, MLA Claudia Chender, and Mayor Mike Savage, make sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

The month is almost over but there is still time to participate, help us spread the word by taking a photo of yourself or someone holding the
#InclusionNS sign or take a photo of what you think community living is. Post your photos using #InclusionNS or send it to us and we will share it on our social media!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Mea Very Culpa ... Estate Planning

You know it's bad when ...

Even I can't believe that I have only posted once since February. And this after promising to post on Nova Scotia's new guardianship representation legislation for the past seven months.

Hence: Mea Very Culpa

When it comes to the promised post(s) about the new Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act, in my defence, there's a fair bit to digest there and the fact that takes time is somewhat problematic, especially when you have actual client files demanding your attention. That being said, I am working on a representation application at the moment and once I have walked through the process myself, I will be in a much better position to pass on what you need to know.

I'm happy to say that I have done a fair bit of work on the new Nova Scotia  Legal Representation Kit, but that, too, will benefit from having actual practical experience with the new legislation to work from.

In the interim, to appease the masses and remind you that proper "estate planning" involves more than just a Will, I offer you this quick reference estate planning chart courtesy of the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia (a highly-recommended resource lovingly known as LISNS).

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"You Have the Right to Remain Silent ..."

A quick follow-up from this 2009 post regarding challenged youth and the criminal justice system.

The 2009 case involved a Nova Scotia youth with a learning who disability, who made a statement to
police after having purportedly "waived" his right to (among other things) not make such a statement, consult a lawyer and have a lawyer or other adult (usually a parent) present if he made a statement. Although the boy’s mother had told the police of his learning disability,  the officer read the youth his rights in a rapid monotone, not making eye contact, asking only if the boy understood – to which he answered "yes" – but without attempting to gauge the level of that understanding. 

The officer’s rapid pace in navigating the waiver form, monotone voice and lack of eye contact or effort to establish the youth's level of understanding; along with the lack of any real evidence that the youth actually understood his rights left the court unsure whether the youth really understood the importance of the questions and the answers he was giving.

The Supreme Court of Canada held that police must not only advise a young person of their legal rights, but ascertain that he or she actually understands those rights and make an effort to become aware of complicating factors (such as a learning disability or any previous experiences with the criminal justice system).

The police must make an individualized inquiry, so that they can explain the person's rights in a language and at a level that the youth will be able to understand.
"An individualized, objective approach must take into account the level of sophistication of the young detainee and other personal characteristics relevant to the young person’s understanding. Police officers, in determining the appropriate language to use in explaining a young person’s rights, must therefore make a reasonable effort to become aware of significant factors of this sort, such as learning disabilities and previous experience with the criminal justice system.
As a result of this decision, Canadian police have had to work harder to ensure that the youth they deal with actually understand their rights and what it means to give up such rights.  They are required to ask questions about the youth's individual circumstances and tailor their speaking so as to meet that youth's level of understanding if they hope to have any statement made by the youth admitted as evidence in court.

There is much more of interest in this case, so you might want to review that 2009 post in more detail. However, for our purposes today, I found it interesting that school police in Baltimore have now been asked to adopt a "youth-friendly" Miranda warning.
The Baltimore Sun reports the Baltimore school board is currently accepting feedback on new school police policies under consideration before a vote next month.

Juvenile public defender Jenny Egan asked the school board to formulate a Miranda warning that includes developmentally appropriate language. Egan says the typical recitation heard in many a television procedural features clunky language that's difficult for children to understand. Juvenile public defender Neeta Pal read commissioners a "youth-friendly" warning adopted in Seattle's King County that simplifies the language.
[Emphasis added]
If such a move is necessary for typically developing youth, how much more important is it for our youth?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Human Rights & Housing in Nova Scotia

You might recall that in 2015, a Human Rights Complaint was brought against the Disability Support program on behalf of three long-term residents of Emerald Hall. Three years later, this complaint is finally being heard by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

If successful, this complaint has the potential to shake up the Disability Support program for all of us, in a very positive way. Why do we need a shake up?

For me, this headline says it all.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Adult Guardianship Representation in Nova Scotia [Part I]

Adult guardianship has been a very popular topic since this blawg first came into being. But the lay of the land has completely changed as of 12:01 a.m. on December 28, 2017.

Why is that, you ask?

Quite simply, at that time,  a new piece of legislation, the Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act, came into force. This new legislation has significantly changed the scope, extent and meaning of guardianship in Nova Scotia.

How's that, you ask?

First off,  not only does the word "guardian" not appear in the legislation's title, but you won't find it or the tern "incompetent person" anywhere in the text of the legislation, either. Meaning that those of us who were guardians a mere few days ago were magically transformed into "representatives" on the morning of December 29th.

Although I believe that change in terminology is important (will anyone even know what you're talking about when you say you are someone's representative?), it is only the most inconsequential of the changes this legislation brings.

Although the  government engaged in a consultation process (both prior to and after drafting the new legislation), many felt the process was lacking and should have been more extensive, so as to reach all stakeholders (meaning all  the individuals working with and, more importantly, affected by the legislation).

I believe some of these concerns are legitimate. Personally, although heavily involved in the second round of consultation process (and that, really, only by accident), it troubles me to say that I saw very few positive changes come from that process.

I am only one of many who have publicly expressed their concerns with the new legislation; however, I must admit that I find it somewhat ironic that my concerns tend to be close to the polar opposite of those expressed by many others.

But before we go on to examine the new legislation (and my concerns) in more detail, I would like to take a look back.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Some Thoughts on the Proposed Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act

As I have yet to make good on my promise to share my thoughts on Nova Scotia's proposed new adult guardianship legislation, the Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act, while you wait, I humbly offer you my interview on CBC's Main Street Program.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

I'm Not Sure Those Words Mean What You Think They Mean ...

I will definitely have more to say about the Province's proposed new adult guardianship legislation, Adult Capacity and Decision-Making Act, over the next few weeks, but for now I just want to point out what happens when Ministers of the Crown might not have a complete grasp on all the complex legal issues they are responsible for.

Two comments made recently by Justice Minister Mark Furey with respect to the proposed legislation have me a little concerned.

Although the Minister is certainly correct when he states that our current legislation, the Incompetent Persons Act takes an “all or nothing” approach, giving complete control to a guardian for all aspects of a person’s decision-making and I agree that the new legislation is "more progressive”, my concern is that his comment immediately following; namely, that the new Act includes a “presumption of capacity”, could definitely be misleading to some.

Although, unlike the proposed legislation, the Incompetent Persons Act does not clearly state that "an adult is presumed to have capacity, unless the contrary is clearly", this has always been the state of the law at common law. "Common law" simply means judge-made law and it is very bit as valid as legislation, unless some piece of legislation overrides it.

This means that even though our current legislation doesn't explicitly state it, everyone over the age of 19 years in this Province is already presumed to have capacity (or be competent) and for the past several hundred years, an applicant (a person seeking to be appointed as guardian) must prove that an adult is not competent before a guardianship order will be granted.

My second issue with the Minister's comments is that "experts would asses the adult’s capacity to make decisions and the court would determine whether the person applying to be a representative is suitable".

Again, although, perhaps, not technically wrong, it most certainly implies (at least on my reading) that
  • the expert will assess and decide the adult's capacity; and
  • the court will decide if the applicant is a suitable representative (aka "guardian").

The problem is with that first bullet, as it will be the court that determines whether or not a person has capacity, not any expert. We currently need evidence from two medical doctors stating that the adult is incompetent and unable to manage their affairs. Under the new legislation, there will only be one professional assessing the adult's capacity; however, the court is and will remain the final arbiter and, as always, is free to accept some, all or none of an expert's opinion evidence.

And thus my concern with how legal information is sometimes filtered through government officials to the general public. I will share some of my concerns with the proposed legislation, itself, in a later blawg post.

Monday, July 10, 2017

An Estate Planning Tool For All

We've talked a lot  about the Henson Trust in the past - it's importance, it's validity in Nova Scotia and how crucial it is to ensure that one is drafted correctly.

You might want to go back and review some of that. It's okay; I will wait.

One of the things we haven't discussed, though, is the fact that the use of the Henson Trust doesn't have to be limited to families that have a member with special needs or who is in receipt of provincial disability benefits. Although originally designed to protect the inheritance of children with special needs, it can also be an effective estate planning tool for other reasons and even for other families.

For families that do have a child with special needs, in addition to it's ability to protect the beneficiary's provincial disability benefits, a Henson Trust can be a tax-efficient way of taking care of that challenged child's siblings or other relatives. In many cases, the amount of money in the trust is more than the child will require, and whatever remains after the child’s death can be redistributed among his or her siblings.

I will let Ken Pope explain the other beneficial tax implication for families who have a member with special needs:
Under Canadian tax law, there are three types of testamentary trusts: a Graduated Rate Estate (GRE), Qualified Disability Trust (QDT), and all other testamentary trusts (OTTs). 
It used to be that all testamentary trusts were generally taxed in the same way — at the same graduated tax rates as any individual, but as of Jan. 1, 2016, OTTs are taxed at the highest federal tax rate while GREs and QDTs are not ...
"The taxation of testamentary trusts has changed, but as long as income is declared or attributed in the hands of beneficiaries who are in lower tax brackets, there’s no real change,” Pope says. “Now all income in the hands of the trust is taxed at the top marginal rate of 44 per cent, but if the income is declared in the hands of a beneficiary, it’s taxed at a substantially lower rate.”Finally, a reason for any family to consider using a Henson Trust is to allow parents to sprinkle income among their children or to protect assets in the event of a divorce.
As I said, however, this isn't just an estate planning device for families with a member with special needs. A very good reason for all families to consider whether or not a Henson Trust might be useful in their circumstances is the fact that it gives parents the ability to sprinkle income among their children and protect assets in the event of a divorce.
If you receive $100,000 inheritance from your father, and you and your husband use it pay down your mortgage, you won’t ever get $50,000 back in the event you divorce,” he explains. “But if you receive this inheritance as a Henson Trust, that trust in not divisible in the event you get divorced.”
Henson Trusts ... crucial for families with a member in receipt of provincial disability benefits, but so much more.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants ...

Trolling through FaceBook today (because I really have nothing else to do, right?!), I was noticing some of my American friends posting their thoughts on the debt they owe to those who came before them and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Which, I honour and respect that, it's just that we tend to save those thoughts for a different day ...

However, it did get me thinking about how much we, as parents, owe to those who came before us. How both we and our children stand on their shoulders.

Pretty much any advance made in the world of disabilities, whether we look to the US, across Canada or right here in Nova Scotia came about through the sheer work, determination, dedication and (never to be forgotten) passion of those parents.

Think about it ... in the US, we need only to look at IDEA; in Canada we could look at the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and elsewhere; here in Nova Scotia, I need only look almost literally across the street from my home to see the Flowercart. I can only presume that other sheltered workshops throughout the Province came about through a similar process. Please understand that I'm not suggesting that any of these concepts (particularly sheltered workshops) couldn't be improved on, just that, at the time, they were a giant step forward for the disability community.

It's true, I have had (and shared) such thoughts on many occasions, but what makes this time different perhaps are the four parent-inspired and created innovations I am aware of in my own back yard - both CAPRE and the Alexander Society for Inclusive Arts have been around for many, many years; Kaleidoscope is relatively new; and Rowan's Room Respite and Developmental Centre is pretty much brand new. I am proud to personally know all the families that started these endeavors and of the fact that all four are happening right here, in my Annapolis Valley.

If I may, I am particularly proud (at the moment) of Elizabeth Mason Squires for taking on this huge venture:
The Skills to Navigate
It’s not about fitting in. It’s about giving them the skills and tools to better navigate a world that doesn’t always understand or accept differences. It’s about being who they are but giving them the power to control their understanding of unfamiliar situations and differences, as well as the ability to master their own environment.
Be it with respect to education, day programming, leisure, housing or any other of the myriad of issues facing our communities, the facts remain the same - it so often takes highly-motivated parents and families desperate to find something useful and workable for their family members to create the next bridge forward, to the benefit of so many.

May we never forget that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. But equally important, may we never forget our corresponding duty to make life better for future generations.

And while we're doing that, please don't forget to check out the above organizations.

Monday, May 8, 2017



We are asking you to take action in your home communities to support and address issues relating to individuals with disabilities and their families.  We share with you our latest News Release and ask you to also share/post it on your websites/facebook & tweet away...

Contact your local candidate and ask them what their position is on the "Transformation Process"...or attend a candidates meeting...

Contact local media in your area to see whether a story could be done on these issues pertaining to the Transformation and how it relates in your community.

DRC have asked for meetings with Premier McNeil & Opposition party leaders to highlight our concerns & the issues facing our community.  This is a chance to have your voices heard.

Ask other family & community members to support you in your efforts!


Since 2014 the Liberal government stalls Human Rights Complaint that was filed jointly with three individual complainants, the Disability Rights Coalition(DRC) and the Canadian Elizabeth Fry Society.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

My Favourite Time of the Year ... Election Time!

Long time, no speak. My apologies for that.

But look at what I found today ...
Shaping the future of NOVA SCOTIA’S DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAM Choice and Inclusion: Implementation Plan
Reading through it, it occurred to me that they design these things so that anyone outside the disability community who happens to stumble across it will flip through it and think, "Good job, guys. Look at us go".

Unfortunately, if you happen to be someone who has actually walked (or wheeled) their way through this world, you might want to take a Valium (or some other nervous system calming agent) before trying to read it.

If I may ... a few examples, perhaps?

Oh look, they are going to take a new approach in providing services. How special.
A New Approach
Nova Scotians with disabilities have the same rights as everyone. We all deserve to live our lives as independently as possible. Each of us has a right to be full participants in society.

That means full social and economic inclusion, and the opportunity to live with dignity and choice. A person-directed, accessible and flexible support system for persons with disabilities will focus on key areas of action: • Increasing community-based living with social and economic inclusion; • Modernizing services and programs based on choice, flexibility and person-directed planning; and, • Reducing reliance on long term larger facilities. 
Too bad that promise was first made four year ago, when this government came to power. You might remember that - it was when the Liberals first adopted the NDP plan in the middle of our last election campaign.

Update the legislation? You mean the Homes for Special Care Act, first passed in the 1970s? That would be awesome, wouldn't it?
Updated Legislation
New legislation to replace the Homes for Special Care Act will ensure a person-directed approach to service delivery and emphasize helping people live in their own homes and communities. The legislation will help establish a range of services, supports and funding, while protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities so they can access government services and programs. 
Too bad that promise was made four year ago, too. And still not a hint of the legislation, let alone the regulations that would have to follow (often where the "meat" of the law lives).*

Should I go on? Just a few more thoughts, I promise.

What exactly are we to "reimagine" these "facilities" as?
Reimagine Residential Facilities
Under a new delivery system, facilities will no longer be used as long term residences. Instead, they may be adapted and reinvented in keeping with the principles of the transformation. The province will no longer fund the expansion of the old model of support which includes Regional Rehabilitation Centres (RRC) and Adult Residential Centres (ARC). This will not happen overnight. As we move away from the old model, there will be a focus on community-based residential living options. 
And when, exactly, will referrals actually stop? Just how long can a "temporary" placement in one of these institutions last?

Sorry, I didn't quite catch that ... how many years was that?

All right, all right. I hear you.

I will leave it to you to peruse the rest at your leisure.

But before you go, anyone interested in a little history on the Roadmap?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Inclusion ... Missing the Point?

The more things change the more they seem to stay the the same.

This time, it seemed to all start sometime after teachers and the Nova Scotia government couldn't come to an agreement for a new contract. Although not mentioned at first, the concept of inclusion and how well it is (or isn't working) eventually popped up. Right on cue. And not just in Nova Scotia; suddenly Newfoundland teachers were weighing in on the topic, too.

But none of this is new news to any of you. You've heard it, seen it read, read it, lived it.

Most of us in the disability community who have had to deal with Nova Scotia's public education system can provide a laundry list of reasons why inclusion doesn't work as well as it should. One of the biggest reasons being a pitiful lack of proper funding and resources, of course.

But again, old news. So why are we here today, you ask.

Good question. But before I answer that, let me tell you why we're not here.
  1. I don't want to talk about whether inclusion as a concept is a good or bad idea. 
  2. Nor am I here to talk about how we could implement it better. 
  3. I'm not even here to bash the Nova Scotia government for practically setting inclusion up to fail in this province. 
No, not today. Today, I have something else in my mind. Today I want to talk about the very definition of inclusion; what it means as a concept; more specifically, what it looks like on the ground in the classroom.

No, not the dictionary definition of the word. Nor am I talking about even the more disability-specific definition of the word.

I am talking about what inclusion means in the classroom. What it really means.