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March 11, 2008

Provincial Party Platforms

Waiting patiently since requesting details of party platforms in August, your society has at last some information to help voters decide where their interests lie. It would be a stretch to call these policies a cohesive plan, and you will have to read the statements (in topics -> provincial to the right) in detail to decide for yourself what makes sense.

Here is a rough categorization of the substance of the statements as provided by the provincial NDP and Progressive Conservatives:

Category

Conservative

NDP

Grand Total

Assistive devices

1

2

3

Education

5


5

Employment

3


3

Housing

5

4

9

Income Assistance

1


1

Rights

3

3

6

Support Services

8

2

10

Transportation

1

1

2

Grand Total

27

12

39

A complete list is posted here.

Despite promising a statement on September 11, 2007, the Liberal Party has not sent any information. The PC document arrived this February 27 (190 days) and the NDP arrived in a lightning fast 17 days on September 4.

The PCs have combed through their various departments and programs to enumerate anything that might intersect with the interests of persons with disabilities. Not all of these programs would disappear under a new regime – things like self-managed care are here to stay, we hope.

The NDP does not have the luxury of being able to take credit for existing programs, so provides a more general statement of areas of interest.

The 8 categories tabulated above do not cover all areas of interest to persons with disabilities. For example, where is any mention of health? Much is made of Nova Scotia’s commitment to healthy lifestyles, yet many community recreational facilities are inaccessible. Or public safety? Crimes against persons with disabilities are a growing concern.

The NDP forgets education and income completely, while the debate rages about devoting educational resources to mainstreaming. A young woman with a disability was denied support for seeking a higher degree. Many people with disabilities struggle with low incomes and a system that discourages initiative.

The answer, of course, is a Nova Scotians with Disabilities Act, which would require government and business to treat persons with disabilities identically with other citizens. If all departments of government were required to review all of their programs with the objective of neutrality on questions of disability, we would have no inaccessible municipal swimming pools, no libraries without Braille books, and no taverns without wheelchair washrooms.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

A few of the programs earn special mention

  • Bad ideas
    • The PC program in partnership with the Abilities Foundation, which began with a $1 million payment in March 2005, and had helped just 33 individuals in time for the foundation’s annual report in 2006. (PC)
    • Cost sharing of private workplace accommodation. Which amounts to bribery to hire individuals with disabilities. This encourages the perception of persons with disabilities as people who need a handout. (PC)
    • Public sector diversity talent pool – 49 hired in 2007 . (PC)
    • Adopt UN Convention – Send your complaints to Geneva . (NDP)
    • Income Assistance programs – people need incentives, not handouts . (PC)
  • Good ideas
    • Visitability Standards in public housing – ending isolation for those who can’t always get out. . (PC)
    • Accessibility standards for public housing. Finally, something in writing! (NDP)
    • Independent living – everyone is a winner . (PC)
    • Tax credit – to account for the often heavy start-up costs to enter the work force. . (PC)

Gus Reed
March 14, 2008


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