FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2021
HALIFAX, NS – People First Canada, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, and Inclusion Canada are calling on Nova Scotia’s Premier Tim Houston to honour the promise he made on October 7, 2021 to citizens with disabilities to “do the right thing.” The Premier promised his government would not appeal the landmark court decision that found there was discrimination against people with intellectual and physical disabilities who had sought supports, services and housing to enable them to live a life of dignity and be fully included in the community.
Following the Court of Appeal’s October ruling, Premier Houston said his government has heard the message “loud and clear.” “We will work with the community to make sure the supports are in place,” he told reporters. Premier Houston also said the province would work as quickly as it could to provide more supports, services and housing options for people with disabilities.
It was with disbelief, shock, and a deep sense of betrayal that people with disabilities across Canada learned on December 2nd 2021 that Nova Scotia is instead appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, even though this case has dragged on for seven years with significant victories for the complainants, two of whom have tragically died while awaiting a resolution.
“Premier Houston’s failure to uphold his original promise is a clear example of the systemic discrimination this very case is about,” says Krista Carr, EVP of Inclusion Canada, “the Premier can set an example for other provinces and territories by acknowledging the need for reform. By appealing this decision, he seeks to pass blame and avoid the hard work desperately needed to ensure the equal support of people with a disability.”
People First Canada, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, and Inclusion Canada urge Premier Houston to drop further court challenges immediately and focus government resources instead on making the systemic changes that are necessary to services so that people with disabilities may live with dignity and recognition of their human rights.
The CBC National program The Current highlighted the importance of this case today, in this interview.
Joseph Delaney, the late Sheila Livingstone and the late Beth MacLean, three people with intellectual disabilities lived in institutions for many years.In 2019, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Board of Inquiry found that these individuals had the right to live with the help of support workers in homes within the community — referred to as a small options home.
However, the Human Rights Board of Inquiry rejected the argument of the Disability Rights Coalition that systemic discrimination by the province of Nova Scotia prevented others with intellectual disabilities from accessing the small options homes. That’s why the case went to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
In October 2021, the Court of Appeal ruled that there is ample evidence that the way the Nova Scotia government provides support to persons with disabilities puts them at a unique disadvantage. This includes prolonged unjustified institutionalization, years-long waits to receive services that they are entitled to or having to relocate to receive those services.
Nova Scotia lags well behind other Canadian provinces in providing community homes and supports for people with intellectual disabilities.
Up to 1900 people with disabilities remain on waitlist for community placement, of which over 1,000 remain in institutions and approximately 500 of which remain without services.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marc Muschler Senior Communications Officer, Inclusion Canada
Inclusion Canada is a national federation of 13 provincial-territorial associations and over 300 local associations working to advance the full inclusion and human rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families. We lead the way in building an inclusive Canada by strengthening families, defending rights, and transforming communities into places where everyone belongs.