News release

Transforming Support for People Living with Disabilities

An independent expert report that could set the groundwork for closing the province’s remaining institutions for people living with disabilities and having their needs managed in the community has been released.

The report includes six key directions with supporting action plans and timelines for implementation. The Province and the Disability Rights Coalition of Nova Scotia have agreed that the recommendations will form the basis of a remedy for an ongoing human rights complaint.

“We are grateful to the Disability Rights Coalition for working with us throughout this process,” said Community Services Minister Karla MacFarlane. “We share a vision that people with disabilities be respected, be empowered to make their own choices and be able to access the supports they need for personal and professional fulfillment.”

The report, titled Human Rights Review and Remedy for the Finding of Systemic Discrimination Against Nova Scotians with Disabilities, was jointly commissioned by the coalition and the Department of Community Services. It was prepared by Eddie Bartnik, an internationally recognized expert in disability, mental health and community services from Australia, and Tim Stainton, a professor in the school of social work at the University of British Columbia and Director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the university.

The experts recommended reforms to be implemented over five years. It would involve programs and services co-ordinated across many government departments. The cost – not yet estimated – will depend on factors such as program design, staffing levels, the availability of specialized supports and a regional approach to delivering services.

The human rights complaint that prompted the report dates back to 2014, when three individuals and the coalition alleged the Province discriminated against people with disabilities by not providing the supports and services they need to live in the community. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Board of Inquiry ruled in favour of the three individuals in 2019, and following a 2021 Nova Scotia Court of Appeal decision in the coalition’s favour regarding systemic discrimination, the Province and coalition initiated a review process with the independent experts to develop a remedy.

The final steps to formalize this remedy will take place with the board of inquiry over the coming months.

Quick Facts:

  • the report involved significant public and stakeholder engagement with more than 140 participants and considered the recommendations in previous reports on support for people living with disabilities

Additional Resources:

Human Rights Review and Remedy for the Finding of Systemic Discrimination Against Nova Scotians with Disabilities: https://novascotia.ca/human-rights-remedy-dsp-final-report

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