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October 2, 2019

Enough!

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

September 24, 2019

Bluenose



For me, the most interesting Nova Scotia artist is Earl Bailly.  The town of Lunenburg website says:

b. 8 July 1903 in Lunenburg, d. 1 July 1977 in Lunenburg
An inspiration to others in overcoming physical challenges to lead a full, productive life. Evern "Earl" Bailly brought attention to Lunenburg with his lifelong artistic accomplishments, and his engaging personality. Stricken with Polio at the age of two, he lost the use of his arms and legs, learning to write and paint with his mouth. Earl developed a highly refined sense of colour and composition, being well read in art theory and practice. He travelled to major cities in across Canada, the U.S. and Bermuda, achieving recognition at Galleries for the quality of his Maritime scenes. In 1933, with his brother Don, Earl sailed to the Chicago World's Fair on the original Bluenose, with Captain Angus Walters.
I was lucky enough to buy one his paintings this summer


It's called "Uploading Salt" and shows a wheelbarrow being filled with salt. The more I look at it, the more I see.  For the present discussion, take note of the ramp, a useful accessory if you happen to be toting something weighing 2,170 kilograms per cubic meter.

Bailly may have used just such a ramp when he sailed on the Bluenose to the Chicago World's Fair.

Last week I was in Lunenburg, where the Bluenose was open to the public.  I asked if my wheelchair and I could go aboard, and was told maybe I could be carried up the steps and down the ramp, and the decks were barrier free. 

This being 2019, I declined.  Meanwhile I watched seniors gamely attempting the tall step with no railing.


According to the ever-reliable and disability-friendly website of the Executive Council's Agencies, Boards, and Commissions, there are no openings on the Schooner Bluenose Foundation's Board.

Available Position Types: The following positions are currently vacant, or will become vacant in the next year.
- There are no upcoming vacancies.

Current members are:

Honourable Leo Glavine (Halifax) President & Member

Hmm, isn't he

Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage
Minister of Seniors
Minister responsible for the Heritage Property Act
Minister of the Voluntary Sector

?????????????????

So I'm nominating Leo Glavine for the James McGregor Stewart penalty of $1000 for failing to make a very simple and obvious change for accessibility.  He is responsible for Seniors, after all.  I wonder if he's ever met one.....

The bill for rebuilding the Bluenose was $24 million and Leo couldn't find $250 for a ramp

September 23, 2019

Announcing the JMcGS penalty




In nearly every small town in the US, you can drive down the main street and find the right proportion of accessible parking spaces, correctly sized and labeled.  Businesses have ramps and wide doorways, curbcuts are smooth and uneventful.

The Americans with Disabilities Act gives people with and without disabilities the right to file lawsuits in Federal court and obtain Federal court orders to stop ADA violations. If you are sued by an individual and you lose the case, you may have to pay the winning party’s attorney’s fees. The ADA does not permit monetary damages to be assessed against you in lawsuits brought by individuals. (Some state and local antidiscrimination laws allow compensatory damages to be assessed against you, but not the ADA.)


This puts the enforcement power in the hands or those affected by violations.  If you have trouble with a curbcut, you can wheel down to City Hall and demand  that the problem be fixed.  Nine times in ten, it's much cheaper to fix the problem than to defend a lawsuit, especially when costs are awarded to the winner.


This has spawned an industry - lawyers making a living suing on behalf of those affected by noncompliance.  They get fees awarded to them.  Some call that a "shakedown".  I call it efficient and just.


Here in Nova Scotia we're unlikely to follow that  example.  It works in the US because of the strong veteran lobby, but we're likely to be subjected to some inspection regime far removed from the courts.


In the two years since Bill 59 (the Accessibility Act) was proclaimed, the government has been busy committing to:

"the things we do now to initiate change across the organization and set the stage for creating a culture of accessibility." 

For Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Spaces this means a promise to

 "Conduct a review of existing occupied spaces to determine accessibility issues and priorities and develop an action plan to achieve accessibility in Government of Nova Scotia owned and leased premises by 2030."

So much stage setting, initiating, reviewing, prioritizing, and developing means that darn little has actually happened.


Every year on June 30th, James McGregor Stewart's birthday,  we award $1000 to an effective advocate for people with disabilities.


This year, on February 11, Stewart's death day, we will issue a $1000 penalty for the best example of a simple solution to a simple problem that has been overlooked by the province.


You can email me your nominations at wcreedh@gmail.com:

  1. describe the problem
  2. name those responsible
  3. describe the simple solution 
This is an exercise in shaming.  We'll see whether anyone actually pays, but there is no reason why things shouldn't be happening now.

We will hold a vote in January.  The tax-deductible winning penalty will go into the award fund.  The simple solution must be in place.


As an example,  the post below has earned Laura Lee Langley and the Executive Council a nomination for a $1000 penalty for not fixing the simple problem with ABC requirements.


Gus Reed