For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Halifax, NS: Inclusion Canada celebrates the Nova Scotia government’s commitment today to address human rights violations against people with disabilities. The government has agreed to recommendations from the Independent Expert Review Report, endorsed by the NS Disability Rights Coalition (DRC), which forms the foundation of the Agreement for a Human Rights Remedy. 

The Report calls for an end to the discriminatory forcible confinement of people with disabilities in institutions and a complete system transformation focused on enabling people with disabilities to live inclusive lives in community. If done right, this will end not only the discriminatory practices of institutionalization but equally important, it will stop the government of Nova Scotia’s placement of individuals with disabilities and their families on languishing and protracted lists while they wait for needed supports and services.

The Independent Expert Review Report

The Report outlines six key directions, two of which include individualized person-centred planning and community-based support with individualized funding, both in addition to deinstitutionalization. The next step is for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Board of Inquiry to issue its formal Remedy based on the parties agreement to implement the recommendations of the Expert Report.

The Report establishes clear timeframes and targets to return those currently institutionalized to the communities from across Nova Scotia from which they were removed and where their lives can begin anew.  Under the plan all institutions will be closed within 5 years. The return of individuals with disabilities to life in the community must be done thoughtfully taking into account each person’s uniqueness. Inclusion Canada recommends The Right Way – A Guide to Closing Institutions, developed by People First of Canada and Inclusion Canada’s Joint Task Force on Deinstitutionalization as a means of ensuring deinstitutionalization is done right.

Individuals with Disabilities and Their Families to Lead

The Report states, “Family leadership in policy and program development and delivery has been, and should remain, a key part of the remedy going forward.” 

Robin Acton, President of Inclusion Canada and the parent of a young woman with an intellectual disability said, “First off, congratulations to the families and individuals who have fought so long and hard for this day. I hope the government of Nova Scotia will look to Inclusion Canada for guidance and clarity on INCLUSION and will ensure the rightful voices of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families remain at the forefront of the much needed and sought after cultural and systemic transformation.”

Inclusion Canada is a national leader in the development of family leadership, inclusive of persons with intellectual disabilities, and in partnering with communities to create welcoming places of belonging and meaningful inclusion.

Historic Agreement

“This historic agreement sends a powerful message across the country that the practices of institutionalization and denying individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families supports, while they are left by the tens of thousands on waiting lists, will no longer be tolerated, stated Krista Carr, Executive Vice President of Inclusion Canada. “Families and individuals with intellectual disabilities have been seeking an end to these discriminatory practices for decades and we celebrate their success as they move forward to a more promising and inclusive future.”

Background and Next Steps

In August 2014, three individuals and the DRC filed a human rights complaint against the Province of Nova Scotia for illegal discrimination of failing to provide the individuals and other people with a disability with appropriate supports and services. The NS Court of Appeal agreed with their claim of discrimination in October 2021, acknowledging individual and systemic discrimination.

The DRC and the NS government agreed to initiate the Review process, which has resulted in the Expert’s Report and recommendations.

Community capacity building for families must be an essential part of the implementation of the Remedy going forward with the recommendations.  Inclusion Canada along with Inclusion Nova Scotia and the NS disability community will be monitoring to ensure that government respects the role of families in building community capacity to ensure successful implementation. 


For more information, please contact:

Marc Muschler
Senior Communications Officer
1-416-661-9611 ext. 232

About 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.