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November 11, 2015

A Challenge to OneNS

Readers have seen this before.  It went to all MLAs and HRM Councilors today, along with the outline of the plan.  Let's get moving!

We Choose Now, a playbook for Nova Scotians, the report of OneNS, makes brief reference to people with disabilities, typically in the context of at-risk communities requiring additional support. The truth is that people with disabilities are a significant human resource that should be tapped "to create a positive trajectory for Nova Scotia through economic growth and demographic stabilization" as the report says in the first paragraph. People with disabilities are often at-risk because we make it so.

Immigrants, the focus of a chapter in the report, have much in common with Nova Scotians with disabilities, who are strangers in their own land. In the OneNS report, there's a section on "Immigration and Welcoming Communities", yet we're not really welcoming to our differently-abled neighbors. Although they are promised equal standing with other Nova Scotians, they are routinely excluded from their community. 

People with disabilities are actively marginalized. Isolation, poverty, inadequate housing, poor educational opportunities (a disgrace really), wage discrimination and plain old prejudice are the reflection of outdated attitudes, countenanced by convoluted and ineffective government programs.

People with disabilities need liberation and empowerment, not sympathy and re-jiggered supports. Moving just one person from the labyrinth of "community services" to the world of work will save taxpayers over $10,000 in the first year alone. There are thousands like this, and the payoff is enormous. 

This is an immediate economic benefit, yet we find OneNS focusing on dreams we have heard over and over. "Going Global", "ICT Momentum" and "Ocean Advantage" might happen, but the contribution of people with disabilities certainly will happen, if only we'd let it. 

There's nothing mysterious here - turning an idea into reality is easy, actually saves money and helps Nova Scotia. Here is an outline of a plan that could be up and running in six months. Please have a look and consider the potential of people with disabilities.

Because it's 2015.

Yours truly,

Gus Reed
The James McGregor Stewart Society

406-1540 Summer St
Halifax, NS B3H 4R9
902 482 4017

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