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April 1, 2020

Wash up!


  • Nova Scotia in a state of emergency:
    • N.S. declares state of emergency in response to COVID-19 CBC
  • Restaurants are restricted to take-out and delivery orders only. novascotia.ca
  • There are big fines:
    • Effective immediately, individuals can be fined $1,000 for each violation of the Health Protection Act. Businesses and corporations can be fined $7,500 for each violation, and for each subsequent day. CBC
In newspapers and on TV, Robert Strang, the province's Chief of Public Health advocates strongly for preventative measures against Covid-19:
  • People are being urged to protect themselves through good hygiene like coughing into sleeves, not touching their face and washing hands often.  Although Strang said those instructions sound basic, they are "really important."   CBC
  • People should frequently wash their hands well, cough or sneeze into a tissue or their sleeve, avoid touching their face and give distance to people when socializing.  If a person is sick with a fever or cough, they should stay home for the duration of their illness or wear a mask if they need to go out in public.  “These sound basic, but they’re really important and they actually work,” Strang said.   Chronicle-Herald
I wonder when Strang got handwashing religion.  Four years ago, wheelchair users asked Strang to weigh in on enforcement of the province's food safety regulation requiring "washroom facilities for staff and washroom facilities for the public available in a convenient location" in restaurants.  He was indifferent:
  • "There is agreement that your concern is best handled through the NS Building Code. I suggest that you contact Mr. Joe Rogers, Building Code Coordinator, Office of the Fire Marshall in the Department of Municipal Affairs." he wrote me in March, 2016 
Thus began a four year detour through the depths of justice and human rights in Nova Scotia.  More on this later.  

So for most Nova Scotians, the very best antiviral measure is, "WASH YOUR HANDS".  For wheelchair users, "Call Joe".  Why the difference?  Wheelchair users are used to it, and we call it discrimination.

November 25, 2019

Irony

Having fought since July 26, 2016 (1215 days) for the simple right to wash my hands at provincially licensed restaurants, it's pretty ironic that I just spent 6  nights in hospital with a nasty case of Norovirus.

Personal hygiene (handwashing) is the only way to manage Norovirus.

Norovirus was already on the boat when we boarded in Memphis, TN - some continuing passengers were quarantined and the crew was frantically wiping every exposed surface (with the wrong stuff).  There was a note on the bed to wash hands with soap and water.


It is the unvarnished truth that you cannot maintain clean hands while using a manual wheelchair.  You accidentally touch the tires while exiting the men's room.  The tires rub your winter coat.  People are constantly touching you inadvertently.

It took me 2 days to succumb.  Truly violent symptoms all morning in our tiny cabin.  The on-board EMT called the ambulance.

Five nights in the hospital with very little progress, then a mad dash for the flight home and another night in a hospital.

Five Nova Scotians tried to beat some sense into the mostly impenetrable brains of government officials, inspectors and restauranteurs through a Human Rights Complaint, which they won in September, 2018.  It is 14 months since the government announced a fast track action plan:
"The province will not appeal the Sept. 6 decision of a human rights board of inquiry.
The Department of Environment was ordered to require restaurants to have accessible washrooms in order to comply with the food safety regulations, unless that requirement can be shown to cause undue hardship*.
The province will fast track an action plan that will ensure the human rights decision is implemented in a timely fashion. This plan will be developed in collaboration with stakeholders, including the disability community and the restaurant industry."
*The words "undue hardship" do not appear in the order.

Working feverishly at their usual glacial pace, the government is doubtless wrestling with the completely made-up notion of 'undue hardship' - figuring how to allow noncompliant restaurants to continue if their fiscal affairs are marginal.  This seems like s fool's errand, since about 80% of restaurants fail within five years of opening......

But no 'undue hardship' for me?  Being excluded from public health regulation isn't 'undue hardship'?  Was projectile vomiting that Crab Bisque 'undue hardship'?  How about "We're just giving this Vancomycin to make sure you don't get CDiff and die on us".  Or "No worries, this heart monitor is just a precaution".

For the cheap, irresponsible and, frankly, dangerous restaurant industry, 'undue hardship' means 'We're broke and can't observe public health regulations.  Sorry. Here's a bucket.'  Having an accessible washroom will mean bankruptcy.  I say good riddance to unhealthy restaurants!

For me 'undue hardship means 'I wonder if there are easier way to die......'.

Any attempt to incorporate the notion of 'undue hardship' into regulations is clearly directed at people with disabilities, discriminatory and crying out for a Human Rights Complaint.

Good luck with that!

October 2, 2019

Enough!

A complaint made September 29 to the Human Rights Commission from me only:
************************

Under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act this is a complaint against:
  • The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission
  • The Nova Scotia Ministry of Justice
  • The Nova Scotia Ministry of Environment
  • The Nova Scotia Ministry of Health
for failure to enforce of a Human Rights Board of Inquiry order. 

On September 6, 2018, a Human Rights Board of Inquiry ordered Respondent  PROVINCE OF NOVA SCOTIA (DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT), AND/OR PROVINCE OF NOVA SCOTIA OR CAPITAL DISTRICT HEALTH AUTHORITY "to interpret, administer and enforce the words "washroom facilities for the public available in a convenient location" in s.20(1) of the Food Safety Regulations as requiring those washroom facilities to be accessible to members of the public who use wheelchairs"

Since the order, no such enforcement has taken place.  The Ministry of Justice has applied its Restorative Justice protocols, authorized for "those who have been affected by criminal harms".  The order does not contemplate any delay in execution.  "Restorative Justice" simply does not apply, and its use discriminates against me and other people with disabilities.  

Since the order, I have filed Food Safety complaints on five occasions
  • Carleton - October 26 2018
  • Le Coq - October 22 2018
  • Stories - October 19 2018
  • Dalhousie Faculty Club - March 1 2019
  • Five Fishermen - October 19 2018
To my knowledge, each of these continues to operate in violation of section 20(1) of the Food Safety Regulations.

The Human Rights Commission has authority to enforce compliance.  I requested that it do so in a November 24, 2018 email to Christine Hanson.  I did not receive a reply.  Relevant sections of the act are:
S(37) Every person in respect of whom an order is made under this Act shall comply with the order. 
S(38) Every person who does anything prohibited by this Act or who refuses or neglects to comply with any order made under this Act is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to, if a person other than an individual, a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars. 
S(39) (1) No prosecution for an offence under this Act shall be instituted without the consent in writing of the Minister. 

The entanglement of interests is a concern:  
  • The Minister of Justice is the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act.
  • The Human Rights Commission did not support the complainants in the board of inquiry.
  • The Human Rights Commission cannot impose a fine for noncompliance without the minister's approval.  
  • The respondent's legal team was provided by the Minister of Justice.  
  • The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which was granted intervenor status by the Board of Inquiry and filed a document bitterly opposing the complaint, has been given equal standing in the mysterious Restorative Justice process.
  • The Ministers of Justice, Environment and Health are all colleagues in cabinet.

Most importantly, because of the nonfeasance of the above-named entities, people with disabilities remain in jeopardy of their health.  The failure to include them in the administration of Public Health policy is dangerous and discriminatory.

I seek penalties in the amount of $1000/day from September 6, 2018 until the first day of enforcement, paid by the above-named entities, to be placed in a revolving fund under the administration of the Accessibility Directorate for the exclusive purpose of helping restaurants meet the standard of the order.  So far, that would be $389,000.

You are certainly in possession of the documents I cite.  I look forward to hearing from you.  I prefer and request email communication.

Gus Reed