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April 27, 2022

2022 Nominations

The James McGregor Stewart Award recognizes outstanding contributions of individuals living with a disability.

The nomination period is now open, and nominations are accepted for residents of Nova Scotia with disabilities.

Nominees will be evaluated for determination and achievement in conquering personal or externally imposed boundaries, with emphasis on leadership, personal excellence and advocacy.

The deadline for nominations is May 15th, 2022.
Past awards were made to:

2015 Sarah Dube
2016 Clary Stubbert
2017 Gerry Post
2018 Paul Vienneau

December 8, 2021

Tim! Practice your apology.......

According to the Examiner's Jennifer Henderson, the Province will appeal a decision of the Court after all.  Henderson's article is:  

‘The worst possible outcome’: After the premier said he wouldn’t pursue it in court, Houston government is appealing disability rights decision

It quotes a statement from Karla MacFarlane:

As Minister of Community Services, I’m responding on behalf of the Premier.

In early October, I stated the province would not be appealing the decision of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal with regards to the findings of individual discrimination in the cases of Joey Delaney, the late Beth MacLean, and the late Sheila Livingstone.

And, I want to again reiterate that government is not appealing the findings of individual discrimination. Nor are we appealing the individual damages awarded.

I feel that what happened to Joey Delaney, Beth MacLean and Shelia Livingstone was terribly wrong — and that it does not reflect the values of kindness, respect, fairness and decency that we, as Nova Scotians, hold dear.

Many significant questions arise from the Court of Appeal decision that we believe the Supreme Court of Canada may help us to resolve. These questions include the impacts and implications of the systemic finding for other social programs delivered by government.  Government programs are guided by policies with allocated budgets. This decision also places a legal requirement on the Disability Support Program and we need to better understand that requirement. For these reasons, the province has made the decision to appeal.

It is important to remember that this decision is about the interpretation of the Human Rights Act and not directly about how Community Services or Health and Wellness does their job.  The Court's Information sheet for this decision (which is not supposed to be quoted) says of the Human Rights Board of Inquiry:

The Board did not err in its identification of the test for prima facie discrimination as being contained within s. 4 of the Act.  Contrary to the Province’s assertion, the Board did not create a “novel” test in its assessment of the complainants’ allegations of discrimination.

Kevin Kindred, acting for the Attorney General of Nova Scotia, made the same old implausible argument that Community Services doesn't actually provide a "service". 

The Board did, however, err in law in its identification of the “service” at the heart of the complaints.  The Board, in finding that the “service” was services provided by the Province to persons with disabilities, committed the error warned against by the Supreme Court of Canada in Moore v. British Columbia, 2012 SCC 61—comparing the treatment of disabled persons to other disabled persons.

It is that idea - that the province has to treat people with disabilities the same as anyone else - that alarms the bureaucracy.  That's what makes the problem systemic.  

I can save them the expense of an appeal and the embarrassment of yet another apology.  Acadians, Mi'kmaq, Africville, Homeless, People With Disabilities - we're all a mystery to government and they are predictably unimaginative.  

The support money goes to third parties, robbing people of their independence.  It is unquestionably the entitlement of people with disabilities, not the property of the various well-meaning but conflicted charities.  

I wrote about  systemic last time, and gave the Premier seven things to do to start shoveling out of the hole government has dug for itself:

  1. Adopt the Disability Tax Credit as the single definition of 'Disability'
  2. repeal any law or regulation that permits paying People with Disabilities less than minimum wage
  3. Stop relying on 'restorative justice' when adjudicating Human Rights cases.  
  4. Make the Disability Tax Credit Refundable
  5. Rethink "Undue Hardship"
  6. Standardize and require sex and rights education for 'Social Enterprise' establishments and group home operations.
  7. End Nondisclosure Agreements in human rights settlements.
Items in red are examples of policies that are just plain wrong - treating people with disabilities as a separate class - systemic discrimination, it's called.  Each of these brings terror to the bureaucracy. 

We are in a housing crisis - how about facilitating home ownership?
We are in a home-care crisis. How about employing people with disabilities as monitors?
We are financially strapped.  How about getting people off supports altogether?

Just to remind ourselves of the pattern, here are some completely obvious barriers that have been at least partially dismantled in the last ten years, thanks to the advocacy of people with disabilities:
  1. No First Voice participation in drafting the Accessibility Act
  2. No wheelchair class in the Blue Nose Marathon
  3. Poor access to HRM city hall
  4. Inadequate infrastructure 
  5. Unequal access to MLA constituency offices
  6. No accessible washrooms in restaurants and government offices
  7. Stopping a recent plan to limit appearances before the Law Amendments Committee to in-person attendance. 
  8. Changing a by-law that makes it difficult to have a ramp.
  9. Questioning a secretive and flawed employment equity policy
  10. Unequal representation on Agencies, Boards and Commissions
  11. Harbor Hopper reinvisioned
  12. Reconfiguring Human Rights Complaints
I'm still angered by Board of Inquiry Chair J. Walter Thompson's openly biased assertion that people with disabilities don't deserve the same compensation as others.  His exact words were: “What, besides seeing them safe, clean, warm, fed, clothed and healthy in a home, can one reasonably ask for them?”

Like pets.

The Bluenose is still inaccessible


October 21, 2021


I was at the opening of the Peggy's Cove viewing deck Monday.  It's pretty nice for aesthetics and accessibility.  It doesn't have a lot to do with Peggy's Cove the fishing village of 65 years ago (I was there in 1957), but then again, Peggy's Cove is now more of a gift shop village and a destination for 700,000 tourists than a place where Cod comes ashore.

I take the deck as a promise.  The treatment of People with Disabilities is more complicated than what a ramp will solve, but it's a start.

We hear the word 'systemic' every day, but seldom in the context of disability.  I'm talking about 'systemic Ableism' in the sense of  thoughtlessness with unintended consequences.  

Hardly anyone knows what 'Ableism' is, let alone how to spot it in action.  Low expectations and paternalism are trademarks of Ableism, and misunderstanding is its best friend.  It has worked its way into every corner of Nova Scotia  It's seldom malicious, usually just clueless.  Sometimes it even masquerades as being helpful.

I just finished up my list of seven things to do right away:

  1. Adopt the Disability Tax Credit as the single definition of 'Disability'
  2. repeal any law or regulation that permits paying People with Disabilities less than minimum wage
  3. Stop relying on 'restorative justice' when adjudicating Human Rights cases.  
  4. Make the Disability Tax Credit Refundable
  5. Rethink "Undue Hardship"
  6. Standardize and require sex and rights education  for 'Social Enterprise' establishments and group home operations.
  7. End Nondisclosure agreements in human rights settlements.

Today there was a beautiful, shining and outstanding example of unintended consequences.  The new premier, reported to be a stand-up, intelligent guy, had a brain hiccup and backed a plan to limit appearances before the Law Amendments Committee to in-person attendance.  Thanks to Gerry Post, and NDP Leader Gary Burrill, Mr. Houston was reminded that this idea is fundamentally discriminatory.  

We emphasize 'equity and inclusivity', yet we make it as inconvenient as possible for some people to participate in their democracy.

We went through this with Bill 59, the Accessibility Act, moving mountains to get the Directorate incorporated into the Justice Department.  Evidently, that information escaped the committee chair, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Brad Johns.

I'm going to give him a pass just this once, but he should familiarize himself with his department.  We'll be watching......

Simple decisions have complex consequences, and we rely on our elected representatives to seek good advice and make reasonable decisions..

In Peggys Cove: Job well done.  To Gerry Post: A well deserved salute!  To Mr. Houston:  Start at #1, proceed quickly!

Gus Reed