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July 4, 2013

Rights and Privileges

I had a call yesterday morning from a very nice person named Brynn Langille at News 95.7, wanting to know what I thought of the province's announcement of accessibility grants.  I said I hadn't heard, and Brynn pointed me to the Chronicle-Herald article.  I said I'd do some research and we agreed to talk in the afternoon.
Well, the sun came out for the first time in days, and I motored down to the library, so we didn't connect.  But it's an interesting question that deserves an answer.

First off, it's not a new program.  It's been in existence since 2000, though I can't find lists of past grants.

Secondly, the Province of Nova Scotia spends $302.01 per second 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The 12 grants total $83,266, which amounts to four and a half minutes of spending.  You can decide if that's a generous amount or a very thrifty tip.

Most important is what the list says about government policy.

  • Two grants for accessible playgrounds say it is not government policy to require all playgrounds to be accessible.
  • One grant for an accessible washroom at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children seems to indicate that we are entrusting our children to a place that does not have adequate bathroom facilities.  I would like to be proven wrong.
  • Four grants for ramps in communities indicate that it is not government policy to require communities to serve all community members.

Leaving five grants to private entities that may otherwise be unable to provide access - two Legions, a church, a sheltered workshop and a curling club.  These probably deserve our support.  Especially the Legions, which should be available to all those who served their country.

As for the others, they only confirm government's fundamental misunderstanding of its duty of equitable treatment toward all citizens.  A kid with a wheelchair should be able to use any playground, and a kid with a wheelchair in short-term care should be able to pee in safety.  These are rights, not privileges bestowed from on high.

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