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

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

URGENT: Disability Support Program

 Back in the mists of time, we briefly discussed a human rights complaint brought against the Province regarding the Disability Support Program.

The case has had a very long and somewhat torturous* history (during which the provincial government repeatedly flipflopped on whether it would appeal any adverse  rulings**), but at the end of the day, it has turned into a ground-breaking human rights decision from Nova Scotia (of all places!).

At any rate, a huge shout out to the Disability Rights Coalition, who spearheaded the whole thing.

For anyone not in the know, back in 2015, a human rights complaint was brought against the Province regarding three intellectually challenged adults who had been locked in a mental institution for (literally) years for no good or defensible reason. Although legitimately admitted at one point, they were trapped there long past when they should have discharged because no "suitable housing" could be found in the community.

Although initially successful for the three individual complainants***, the Commission refused to extend its remedy in a way that might help other individuals subject to the Disability Support Program's residential options.

Eventually, we made it to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal where the claim of systemic discrimination was found to be valid. 


An interim settlement was negotiated, with yet another independent expert reportthis time to advise to how the systemic discrimination in the Province's provision of supports and services could be resolved. 

However, unlike other studies and reports over years which were shelved by the government, this one has some teeth. You can read the full report here, but if you would prefer the Executive Summary in "plain language" (I know I would!), I suggest you go here.

All of which had led us here:

... there will be a series of in-person sessions held across the Province for participants and their families/support networks. The sessions will be an opportunity to com together to discuss the content of the technical report and the next steps.

The sessions will take place between May 30 and June 14 in nine communities across the province. Please see below for the schedule. Each session will be two hours and will consist of a brief presentation from People First Nova Scotia (disability self-advocacy organization) reps along with Randy Acker, DSP Director. There will be time for smaller individual and group discussions within the venue to allow people to ask questions and gather the information they need. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. If participants require additional transportation funding to attend the session, please contact your care coordinator.

The list of dates and locations follow: 

Bridgewater - NSCC - Lunenburg Campus 75 High St Bridgewater, NS B4V 1V8 Tuesday May 30 -- 1:30-3:30 PM or 5:30-7:30 PM 

Yarmouth -YACRO Hub 6 Thurston St. Yarmouth, NS B5A 4K5 Wednesday May 31 -- 1:30-3:30 PM or 5:30-7:30 PM 

Kentville - Kentville Fire Dept 463 Main St Kentville, NS B4N 1K9 Thursday June 1 -- 1:30-3:30 PM or 5:30-7:30 PM

Pugwash - Cumberland Public Libraries - Pugwash Branch 10182 Durham St Pugwash, NS B0K 1L0 Tuesday June 6 -- 1:30-3:30 PM or 5:30-7:30 PM 

New Glasgow - Summer Street Industries 72 Park St. New Glasgow, NS B2H 5B8 Wednesday June 7 -- 1:30-3:30 PM or 5:30-7:30 PM 

Dartmouth - NSCC Ackerley Campus 21 Woodlawn Rd Dartmouth, NS B2W 2R7 Location - Gymnasium Entrance #7 Thursday June 8 PM -- 1:30-3:30 PM 

Halifax - Club Inclusion 2652 Joseph Howe Dr Halifax, NS B3N 1J2 Thursday June -- 8 5:30-7:30 PM 

Whycocomagh - Whycocomagh Waterfront Centre 9650 NS-105 Whycocomagh, NS B0E 3M0 Tuesday June 13 -- 1:30-3:30 PM Sydney - NSCC Marconi Campus – Room B101B 1240 Grand Lake Rd Grand Lake, NS B1P 6J7 Tuesday June 13 – 6:00-8:00 PM Wednesday June 14 -- 10:00-12:00 noon



~   ~  ~  ~  ~

 In other words, yes, you messed up and must compensate these individuals but we're not going to touch the bigger problem (lack of adequate housing and community supports) for those with intellectual or developmental challenges. Can't touch that with a ten-foot pole. 

** After several flip flops as to whether or not the government would take these poor people on social assistance to court by two different governments (first Liberal, then Conservatize), the Province just did just that, challenging the monetary compensation ordered. Fortunately, the Disability Rights Coalition cross-appealed the finding of no systemic discrimination.

 ** Cash awards were made to each complainant between $200,000 and $300,000. Unfortunately, two of the adults passed away before the case made it to the Court of Appeal.

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