Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Rules in Favour of People with Disabilities
Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 6, 2021
The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal (NSCA) released its ruling today which overturned a human rights board of inquiry decision and made a finding of systemic discrimination against the Province based on its treatment of persons with disabilities in need of supports and services to live in community.
The decades long and ongoing treatment of people with disabilities includes unnecessary institutionalisation, years long and indefinite wait times, and forced removal to remote areas far from family and friends. The NSCA has ruled that this treatment is discriminatory against all people with disabilities.
The Disability Rights Coalition, who brought the human rights complaint of systemic discrimination against the Province, is calling on the new Conservative government to stop the fight against people with disabilities in court and set a new direction that recognises the inherent dignity and equality of people with disabilities.
“Equality for people with disabilities needs to start with taking immediate, concrete steps to close all institutions for people with disabilities, provide meaningful access to community-based supports and services, and ensure that people receive access to services in the community of their choice.” Marty Wexler, member Disability Rights Coalition.
“This is a human rights emergency. People with disabilities are still being forced to wait at the back of the line. The waitlist has continued to grow, fewer people with disability are receiving services and being forced to relocate to obtain what services exist. This government has the power and must act now to right these historic and ongoing wrongs.” Vicky Levack, Disability Rights Coalition member.
“The Court of Appeal has rendered an historic decision on systemic discrimination. No longer can our Province argue that people with disabilities facing unnecessary institutionalisation and indefinite and years long waitlists are not protected by human rights. This decision recognises that community inclusion for all is a human right.” Claire McNeil, Lawyer for Disability Rights Coalition.
“The Court has found that there is an ongoing and historic human rights violation taking place in Nova Scotia against people with disabilities. In recognition of this violation, they have awarded the highest human rights compensation award in Canadian history.” Vince Calderhead, Lawyer for Joey Delaney, and the deceased Sheila Livingstone and Beth MacLean.
In July, the Disability Rights Coalition released a report and call to action to address the Province’s failure to make good on its promise to implement that “Roadmap”. Since making that promise the Province has failed to close a single institution for people with disabilities, fewer people with disabilities are receiving assistance, and the waitlist for services has ballooned.