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July 26, 2020

Happy Birthday


This is worth a listen.  Judith Heumann has been at this for 50+ years and won't take no for an answer.  The part about how the pandemic has made work so accessible is interesting.  If all those government workers are suddenly free to work from home, why is it so difficult to make the same accomodation for people with disabilities?

Heumann writes a nice opinion piece in the New York Times.


June 30, 2020

2020 James McGregor Stewart Award


"A Thorn in the Side of Government"




Kendall Worth is the 2020 recipient of the James McGregor Stewart Award, recognizing high achievement by a Nova Scotian with a disability. It honours the accomplishments of Mr. James McGregor Stewart whose 131st birthday is today, June 30, and who overcame many barriers, despite a reliance on crutches throughout his life as a result of childhood polio.
Worth follows a distinguished line of awardees.
  • 2015 Sarah Dube
  • 2016 Clary Stubbert
  • 2017 Gerry Post
  • 2018 Paul Vienneau
  • 2019 Jenn Powley
Worth was selected from a field of outstanding candidates. Nova Scotia has produced exceptional advocates and we are proud to recognize him. From some of his recommenders, you can get a sense of the difference he has made in the lives of those he has touched:

"Worth is the only journalist in Nova Scotia who consistently writes about people living in poverty -- poverty that is due to systemic issues our governments will not address. These issues include chronic unemployment, disability, low pay and mental health matters. His focus on mental health and the problems of people who are ostracized and demeaned because of mental illness are much needed. He also writes empathetically about the loneliness and lack of social contact many disadvantaged people face."

"Worth's op-eds show a journalist with presence of mind, and a person not easily taken in by those in authority. He is a leader in that he exposes what is happening in his own community and calls for change. He does not give up. He is always willing to discuss, find out more and yet he persists as a thorn in the side of government -- which has a record of batting away opposition, and changing the channel."

"Kendall is the backbone of anti-poverty work in Halifax and throughout the province and even through this pandemic he is stronger than ever. He is assisting people with applying to CERB, navigating the tax system, and helping people get answers to their questions. He literally does not stop fighting and that's why Kendall is really the perfect candidate for this award."


The Award recognizes the spirit of Mr. James McGregor Stewart, first in his class at Dalhousie Law School in 1914, and President of the Students' Council. He was shortlisted for the Rhodes Scholarship but was not successful, due to concerns expressed about his physical condition. Nevertheless, Stewart went on to head a Halifax law firm that became the present day Stewart McKelvey. He was Chairman of Dalhousie's Board of Governors. In 2000, Canadian Lawyer magazine named him as one of Canada’s ten greatest lawyers.

The Award was established by friends of the Society through the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, an organization that supports philanthropy across the province.

June 8, 2020

Inclusion


About the word inclusion
There is often much confusion
Spare me your condescension
privilege and pretension

I wrote about inclusion before, but I had relatively benign feelings back then.  Now I find myself at age 70 and pretty annoyed.  

This is what Laura Lee Langley has to say in her introduction to All Together: An Action Plan for Diversity and Inclusion in the Public Service 2019-2024. (Pay special attention to the underlined parts.  Quiz at the end.)

Message from the Public Service Commissioner 

Nova Scotia is a great place to live, work, and learn. It’s also a diverse and vibrant community of people from all backgrounds, abilities, and ways of life. This is why the Government of Nova Scotia, as one of the largest employers in the province, is leading the way to ensure we have an equally diverse and inclusive public service. A diverse, inclusive public service ensures equity seeking groups -including Indigenous people, African Nova Scotians, persons with disabilities, and other under-represented groups—are genuinely included, celebrated, and given opportunities to succeed. It is a public service that is welcoming, culturally competent, and free of discrimination; one that serves in a way that respects and includes the many cultures and communities of this province. Genuine inclusion means all public servants feel safe and valued when they come to work, so they are comfortable giving their best to the people of Nova Scotia. It helps offset our shrinking labour force and makes us stronger. 

Organizations with diverse and inclusive workplaces attract and retain a skilled, dynamic, and diverse workforce and benefit from a range of perspectives and experiences. We will perform better as a public service by being more engaged, more innovative in our approaches to problem solving, more aware of citizens’ needs, and more flexible in our response to those needs. Our efforts are gaining recognition. In 2018 and 2019, the Nova Scotia Government was recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. We are proud of this progress, which is a direct result of the amount of work that has been done by employees, stakeholders, and partners. We also acknowledge we still have work to do, and this will be reflected in the new strategy that will take us to new levels of leadership in diversity and inclusion. 

Laura Lee Langley Public Service Commissioner

Laura Lee sees two things - diversity and inclusion - and they aren't the same.  Diversity is what drives evolution.  The beak of the finch, the fish that walks, Michael Phelps, Covid-19 immunity.  It works in business because new ideas are put forward that offer a different and innovative perspective.  New ideas are anathema in government.  Diversity brings too much change.

Inclusion is the opposite, implying that there are two sets of people - those who are in and those who are out.  People with disabilities need to be included.  African Nova Scotians want to be included.  Inclusion is condescending.  Inclusion drives uniformity.  Inclusion is boring.  Inclusion is co-option. 

Laura Lee thinks I want to be like her.  Nothing, nothing could be farther from my mind.  Most government bureaucrats confuse diversity and inclusion.  They understand inclusion and resent diversity.  Charity begets inclusion, excellence depends on diversity.  Excellence is a threat.

Laura Lee's report promises a different outcome than the last go around called Raising the Bar, in effect from 2014 to 2018, which earned failing grades from the province's auditor:
Overall Conclusions 
• The Public Service Commission promotes diversity and inclusion, but has not completed all actions outlined in its diversity and  inclusion strategy or assessed whether the goals of the strategy were met. 
• The Public Service Commission does not have an adequate process to identify, collect, and analyze data needed to evaluate the effectiveness of its diversity and inclusion work. 
• The departments of Agriculture, Community Services, and Justice promote diversity and inclusion, but improvements are needed.

Critical to any plan are: 
  • Knowing where we are
  • Goals
  • Targeted and relentless recruitment
  • Evaluation
  • Reporting
  • Repeat
Laura Lee foresees three stages:

Phase One: Current State Assessment
Phase Two: Goal Setting
Phase Three: Implementation and Action Planning

Well, kinda.

  • She relies on the unrigorous "Count Yourself In" census for phase one.
  • Goals are set based thereupon
  • She mentions recruitment once
  • She values measurement
  • Reports will be public
  • Annual reporting implies repetition


Laura Lee's plan lasts 5 years.  There is no timetable.  Don't hold your breath.

Quiz

equity seeking groups  means (pick one)
_ people with nothing else to offer

genuinely included, celebrated,  means (pick one)
_ previous iterations were disingenuous
_ party on!

given opportunities to succeed means (pick one)
_ you people always have your hand out
_ Indigenous people, African Nova Scotians, persons with disabilities, and other under-represented groups can't succeed on their own.

Genuine inclusion means all public servants feel safe and valued means (pick one) 
_ just like in crosswalks

stakeholders  means (pick one)
_ I embrace jargon

new levels of leadership in diversity and inclusion  means (pick one)
_ the old level is zero