The Nova Scotia government will not appeal a recent court decision that found discrimination against people with disabilities who had sought services and housing in the community.
After a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Tim Houston said he does not believe that anyone should take the government to court to “do the right thing.”
NS Court of Appeal Finds Systemic Discrimination Against People with Disabilities
Houston said his administration has heard the message from the Court of Appeals “loud and clear.”
“We will work with the community to make sure the supports are in place,” he told reporters.
And while calling it a challenge, Houston said the province will also work as quickly as possible to provide more housing options for people with disabilities.
“I can’t fix this overnight, nobody can,” Houston said.
In a landmark decision issued Wednesday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals said the provincial government’s inability to offer people with disabilities “meaningful” access to housing and care is evidenced by long waiting lists. The court also said that the situation amounted to a violation of their basic rights.
But Houston sidestepped that court finding, saying it believes that in the past, people were doing “the best they could” to provide adequate support.
“Maybe there needed to be more direction to do what was necessary,” he said. “While we are here now, we know that we must take a different path as a government and we are prepared to take that path.”
The judicial appeal was launched by the Coalition for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. During a hearing last November, his attorney Claire McNeil argued that the mistreatment of people with disabilities included unnecessary institutionalization, long waiting times and forced transfer to remote areas of the province away from family and friends.
Battle for housing rights for people with intellectual disabilities in a NS court
Following the court’s decision on Wednesday, the coalition urged the government not to file an appeal and to respect the equality of people living with disabilities.
In a press release, coalition member Marty Wexler said there is a “human rights emergency.”
“Equality for people with disabilities must begin by taking immediate and concrete steps to close all institutions for people with disabilities, provide meaningful access to community supports and services, and ensure that people receive access to services in the community of their choice. , ”Wexler said.
The coalition pointed to a report it released in July that called on the province to “fulfill” a promise to implement the recommendations of another report published in 2013 known as “The Road Map.”
He called for the removal of institutional facilities and replace them with small-option houses by 2023. The province defines small-option houses as homes in residential neighborhoods for up to four people with disabilities, where they receive care and other support.
The coalition noted that since making the pledge, the government has not closed a single institution for people with disabilities.
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 7, 2021.
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