A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.
~Yoko Ono

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Legislation, Regulations and Policy ... Oh My!

We were previously discussing taxation credits for individuals with disabilities and their families. And today, I planned on taking a further look at provincial benefits. Until I realized that we might need a slight bit of background first.

We've already looked at some of the programs available under Nova Scotia's Services for Persons with Disabilities Program. But before a government institutes any program, policy or service there has to be, in theory at least, some grant of power for them to do so. In other words, there has to be some form of legislative authority which authorizes or allows them to do whatever it is they are doing.

For example, the provincial government receives its authority for the Servcies for Persons with Disabilities program from two pieces of legislation;
  1. the Employment and Income Assistance Act (what people formerly thought of as the Social Assistance Act) and
  2. the Homes for Special Care Act.

In addition to the legislation (the statutes as set out above), the government will also often enact regulations under each statute. The statute gives the broad outlines of what the government can and cannot do and/or what you and I as citizens are allowed and not allowed to do. The regulations made under each of the above statutes fill in the some of the details that are missing from the Acts themselves. Both statutes and regulations have the force of law.

Beneath those you will often 'policy' or 'guidelines" for various programs. Generally speaking, policies do not have the force of law. Which is part of the reason why, for example, in the Dassonville decision we discussed earlier, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal found that the government must look at individual circumstances and cannot simply apply policy in a blanket manner.

You can almost think of it as a painting. We will start with a paint by number:

  • The statute sets out that black and white outline which will eventually turn into a picture.
  • The regulations tell you what colour goes with what number so you can starting painting in the right colour in the right spot.
  • Beyond that, policies or guidelines would give you more rich detail (which shade of blue goes here, is that light brown or dark brown in this square). Maybe not the best analogy, but hopefully you get the picure.

In the next few posts, we are going to look at some of the regulations made under the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act. Regulations that affect how much money your adult child will receive if you keep him or her at home and how any assets that a disabled individual has [or even has access to] affects their eligibility for provincial benefits under programs such as the Services for Persons with Disabilities Program. And how you, as a parent, can work with that in your child's best interests when drafting your Will.


Anonymous said...

M, I dropped in because you reminded me, and I think I deserve a few minutes to do what *I* want (grin) and I am, once again, impressed. I think this information is vital, and it's well-written and concise. Easily understood...I so wish that parents everywhere had a blawg they could go to for their particular region, to find this information. It's very interesting to see what's available there, and it may spark me to go searching to see if we have anything similar here.
I do wish we lived in the same region--of course, it'd have to be USA/PA (grin) although we could visit NS--in the summer!
keep on blawging, you're doing great!
deb in PA

Anonymous said...

I've read most of the articles and I want to congratulate you for the service you are affording so many people who might be finding it hard to obtain good, reliable information on what the rights of the disabled are -and also what the carers can expect regarding help and services to provide for our disabled loved ones. I read with interest although I live in Argentina because it would be so useful to start up something like this here. So often we merely accept things as they are and do not even consider the possibility of help. Knowing how to find,read and interpret the law is a must and you are providing this generously.
Thank you
Eileen Banks - Buenos Aires, Argentina

Kimberly Smith said...

I have to agree with everyone else. You are doing a great thing here, Michelle. This is terrifically useful information - and well organized. Keep going!