"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Sunday, June 19, 2011

If Only ...

I came across this story a few days ago and it made me really, really wish the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contained wording similar that found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring that people with disabilities be allowed to live in the "most integrated setting" within their communities.

Because if it did, then maybe, just maybe, we could just as easily settle our own class action law suit and rather than assigning dollars to “institutions,” the money would follow the individual to the housing of their choice.

A federal judge on Wednesday approved a settlement to a long-running civil case that will force Illinois to begin moving hundreds of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities into more community-based homes and apartments of their choice.

“I firmly believe that the state of Illinois, the citizens, have been well-served by these efforts,” said U.S. District Judge James Holderman, who congratulated lawyers who have spent months negotiating terms of controversial case.

“I will issue an order promptly,” he said, noting that he had received only two objections out of 21Ö responses filed with the court. “I will announce informally today that my position is that the consent decree should be approved and this should be the law that is followed.”

The settlement in the case filed in 2005 by Stanley Ligasd and other plaintiffs will change the way the state now pays for their care. Rather than assigning dollars to “institutions,” the money would follow the individual to the housing of their of their choice. Institutions are defined in the lawsuit as any private, state-funded facility with nine or more residents.
Unfortunately, though, that's not the case

Leaving us to rely on sec. 15 of the Charter.
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
And although there are numerous examples of people attempting (unfortunately, not all that successfully) to use the equality provisions of the Charter to fund adequate social assistance rates and sec. 7 guarantees to "life, liberty and security of the person" to argue a right to subsidized housing for Canadians, I'm not sure that anyone has yet tried to pair sec. 15 rights with a right for the physically and mentally challenged to live within their own communities, in the homes they would choose.  As opposed to those that are imposed on chosen for them.

Although I'm thinking the wording of sec. 15 will never be found to support such a right; that we would need much more explicit wording, such as that found in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Still, anyone there aware of any Canadian case law in this regard?

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