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October 7, 2013


Immigration proponents say we need a million Nova Scotians, and pronto! It’s not that simple, but it’s worth careful thought. Whatever we do in that sphere, here’s something we should be doing anyway:

If we had a million people in Nova Scotia, we’d have 517,773 in the workforce. That’s 54,993 more than we presently have (I’m using 2006 numbers for consistency).

I can find 47,810 of these without looking too hard. They are Nova Scotians who are prevented from working by misguided government policies.

We’re so busy erecting barriers to employing Nova Scotians with disabilities that we’re putting ourselves in jeopardy. Here’s how it worked for the 103,730 disabled Nova Scotians of working age in 2006:

And of those not in the workforce, all but a few were able to work:

As for those who can work (47,810), here are some of the reasons they don't work:
  • Would lose some or all of current income 
  • Would lose some or all of additional supports 
  • Family or friends discourage working 
  • Prevented by family responsibilities 
  • Information about jobs is not adapted 
  • Worried about being isolated by other workers 
  • Have been a victim of discrimination 
  • Feel training is not adequate 
  • Lack of accessible transportation 
  • No jobs available 
The reality is that most Nova Scotians with disabilities are living at the economic margins. Many are isolated and disenfranchised, caught in a Catch-22 where any effort to work reduces income dollar-for-dollar and risks curtailment of life-giving Pharmacare benefits. They make do in substandard housing and don’t have the same expectations as you. They pay for transportation systems they can’t use, they support businesses where they can't work.

47,810 workers; strangers in their own land. Let's help them immigrate to Nova Scotia, doing for them what we'd do for any refugee. Let's:
  • Make employment the overarching goal 
  • Remove disincentives to earning like 
    • dollar-for dollar benefit reductions 
    • risks to Pharmacare 
    • ineligibility for education loans 
  • Have a website, a policy, a program – make an effort! 
  • Recognize that it’s in our own interest, not an act of charity 
  • Make discrimination by any means (including by means of physical barriers) an offense
  • Make sure all public services are of equal quality. 
    • Transportation 
    • Housing 
    • Job counseling 
Finally, let's reward people who move from disability supports to regular employment. $1000 payable on the 1, 2, and 3 year anniversaries of the move. And a similar amount to employers.

We say we welcome immigrants. Let’s start close to home.

Here's the data and the report

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