Close to one in five Nova Scotians describes themselves as having a disability.

Milena Khazanavicius attending the consultation as an interested citizen, along with guide dog Verda. Milena is also active with the Advocacy and Awareness Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind.

The prevalence of disability increases with age. The 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability reports that, overall 19 per cent of adults aged 15 and over in Nova Scotia have a disability. Approximately six per cent of young adults (15-24 years) report having a disability compared with 22 per cent of the older working-age population (45-64 years) and 40 per cent of seniors (65 and older).

The 2012 Canadian Survey on Disabilities reports that among adult Nova Scotians (15 and older) who have a disability 32 per cent report the severity of their disability to be mild, 22 per cent report having a moderate disability and 25 per cent report having a very severe disability.

Among adult Nova Scotians reporting a disability in the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability the types reported most frequently were disabilities relating to:

  • pain (73 per cent)
  • flexibility (55 per cent)
  • mobility (53 per cent)
  • hearing (25 per cent)
  • dexterity (25 per cent)
  • mental health (24 per cent)
  • vision (21 per cent)

Recommendations based on the report to the Minister of Community Services will help develop accessibility legislation that will be introduced in Spring, 2016.

What is Accessibility Legislation?

Most Nova Scotians will face access barriers at some point in their lives. Overcoming or preventing those barriers will improve the health, independence and social inclusion of persons disabled by barriers across their lifespan.

"This legislation will play a key role in turning the tide in Nova Scotia and opening up labour opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in work and education and family life and community life and to be a vibrant part of this great province that we all call home," said Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Kevin Murphy.

Accessibility legislation is about a new law, regulations, standards and policies that will systematically identify, remove and prevent barriers that stop individuals from full participation in all aspects of Nova Scotia life.

To get to a barrier free Nova Scotia we need a legislative framework that encourages participation, ensures access for all and removes barriers that prevent people from participating fully in the community.

The Minister of Community Services' Advisory Panel on Accessibility Legislation was established in June 2014 to consult with Nova Scotians on what should be contained in new accessibility legislation for the province.

The Minister's Advisory Panel's Co-Chairs were:

Anne MacRae is the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission which advises government on the issues and concerns that affect the lives of people with disabilities throughout the province. Her career has focused on increasing awareness and working for greater inclusion. Anne is a co-chair of the Advisory Panel.

Joe Rudderham is Community Service's Executive Director of Disability Support Program. Previously, he was the Director of Apprenticeship at Labour and Advanced Education. His volunteer work includes membership on the Disabled Persons Commission and helping found the Abilympics Association. Joe is a co-chair of the Advisory Panel.

The Minister's Advisory Panel included the following community Representatives.

Dennis Campbell has been named the Metro Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year as well as one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40. His company Ambassatours has been recognized as one of the 10 best companies to work for in Atlantic Canada. In 2012 Dennis was named the Ernst Young Atlantic Canada Tourism and Hospitality Entrepreneur of the Year. He is active in establishing charitable programs and has ambitious philanthropic giving goals.

Cynthia Carroll is the Executive Director of Autism Nova Scotia and an advocate for autism and persons with disabilities. Recently, she collaborated on a National Needs Assessment with the University of York and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Andy Cox has worked in mental health for almost 15 years, including doing individual, family and systemic advocacy at the IWK. Currently he is helping implement a certified peer support program, based on the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. He has contributed to various mental health boards and committees, including at the national level.

Steven Estey brings expertise in international cooperation, human rights and disability, and economic development. Steve belonged to Canada's official delegation to the United Nations that resulted in the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Steve is late-deafened and uses real time captioning to participate in meetings.

Darlene Grant Fiander is the President of the Tourism Industry of Nova Scotia, representing hundreds of businesses throughout Nova Scotia. She works with employers and employees to build a sustainable and healthy tourism workforce as the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Tourism Resource Council. A graduate of MSVU, she has received a professional award and recognition for her leadership in human resources.

Charlie MacDonald was the original Executive Director of the Disabled Persons Commission and his 35 year career in the public service included a focus on diversity and special initiatives. Most recently, Charlie was the Coordinator of the NS Persons with Disabilities Employability Table. He is a champion and an advocate, working to improve employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Charlie is blind and has a guide dog named Cosby.

Warren (Gus) Reed had a lengthy career with Harvard University focusing on undergraduate admissions and educational research. An advocate for disability rights, he was also a member of the Halifax Regional Municipality's Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities.

Claredon Robicheau comes from a Meteghan family of six siblings - four, including himself, are wheelchair users. Following his commerce degree from Saint Mary's University he worked for a bank for more than a decade. Currently he is a full time volunteer and has earned numerous awards. He pioneered the province's first community-based transportation program "Dial a Ride" Le Transport de Clare Society.

Dr. Donald Shiner is an associate professor of marketing at Mount Saint Vincent University. His research focuses on the housing needs of an aging Canadian population and he is currently leading the Atlantic Seniors Housing Research Alliance.

Marcie Shwery-Stanley is originally from North Sydney and currently resides in Sydney, Cape Breton. Marcie is a long-time advocate for persons with disabilities and sits on the Disabled Persons Commission. She is the co-chair of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's Human Rights Affirmative Action Committee, Chair of the Society for the Improvement of Accessible Transportation; as well as being a member of the Marine Atlantic Accessibility Advisory Committee, and the Persons with Disabilities Partnership Association for Cape Breton and Victoria Counties.

Sub-Committee Members

Accessible Information /CommunicationsMs. Cynthia Carroll Executive Director of Autism Nova Scotia
Accessible Information /CommunicationsBarb LeGay Retired Disability Activist
Accessible Information /CommunicationsMr. Frank O'SullivanExecutive Director, Society of Deaf & Hard of Hearing Nova Scotians
Accessible Information /CommunicationsBarb WelsfordAssistive Technology Centre Society
Accessible Information /CommunicationsCarolyn McKenzieInternal Services
Attitude/Public AwarenessSteven Estey Mental Health Advocate
Attitude/Public AwarenessAndy CoxCouncil of Canadians with Disabilities
Attitude/Public AwarenessJane WarrenDisabled Persons Commission
Attitude/Public AwarenessTracey WilliamsCEO, NS Human Rights Commission
Attitude/Public AwarenessCathy MacIssacDirector, Communications NS
Built EnvironmentWarren (Gus) Reed James McGregor Stewart Society
Built EnvironmentDon ShinerMount Saint Vincent University
Built EnvironmentBill CrawfordDisabled Persons Commission
Built EnvironmentBetty MacDonaldExecutive Director, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities
Built EnvironmentRalph FergusonNova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities
Built EnvironmentLindsey RasmussenENQORE Developments
Built EnvironmentTed Ross Building Code Coordinator, Municipal Affairs
Built EnvironmentDan TrokeChief Operating Officer, Housing NS
Built EnvironmentChristian BoudreauManager, Health and Wellness
Built EnvironmentPaul PettipasHomebuilder's Association
Built EnvironmentMargo DauphineeExecutive Director, Nova Scotia Association of Architects
Built EnvironmentLisa PottieChair, Disability Strategy Partnership Group
Built EnvironmentMary Ann MasonProject Manager, TIR
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationMs. Darlene Grant FianderTourism Industry Association Nova Scotia
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationMr. Dennis CampbellAmbassatours
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationMarcie Shwery-StanleyDisabled Persons Commission
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationClaredon RobicheauTransport de Clare Society
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationLuc ErjavecVice President, Atlantic Canada, Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationPat GatesChair, Canadian Council of the Blind Chapter
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationJessica LaneService Nova Scotia
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationKim MacDonaldEast Novability
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationKevin Hindle Operations Manager Taxi and Limousine Services HRM
Customer/Client Services & Public TransportationJim CormierAtlantic Canada Retail Council of Canada
EmploymentCharlie MacDonaldFormer Coordinator, NS Persons with Disabilities Employment Table
EmploymentBob Bennett Summer Street Industries Society
EmploymentBrian TapperChair of DPC and Rehab Counselor
EmploymentBrian Aird Entrepreneurs with Disabilities
EmploymentMs. Janice AinsworthExecutive Director, Teamwork Cooperative
EmploymentCarole LoganAbility Employers Association
EmploymentValerie BowersMi'kmaq Employment Training Secretariat
EmploymentLinda TheriaultDirector Public & Government Affairs, Acadian Seaplants
EmploymentJohn OuelletteProvincial Chamber of Commerce
EmploymentSandy GravesExecutive Director, ESIA Community Services
EmploymentKaren Gatien Director, Adult Education, LAE