June 4, 2018 12:21 pm

Nova Scotia ‘austerity’ left people with disabilities without housing, inquiry told

John Walter Thompson chairs a Nova Scotia human rights board of inquiry dealing with persons with disabilities and their attempts to move out of institutions and into small homes, in Halifax on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

A nationally known expert on disability rights testified today that she believes Nova Scotia created a waiting list for housing for people with disabilities based on government’s desire to save money.

Catherine Frazee, professor emeritus at Ryerson University’s school of disability studies, said in testimony before a human rights inquiry that a freeze on creating “small options” supported housing in the early 1990s led to long waiting lists.

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READ MORE: Nova Scotia argues that supported housing for disabled is not a right

The former chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission also says in a written report that the Nova Scotia freeze – which has since been lifted – was an example of “austerity logic,” where the rights of people with disabilities as citizens are devalued.

The hearing is in Day 14, and is considering whether the Department of Community Services violated the Human Rights Act by housing Joseph Delaney and Beth MacLean in a hospital-like, institutional setting.

WATCH: Disability advocates say housing for those with intellectual disabilities is in crisis

The hearing has also heard from Olga Cain about the story of her sister, Sheila Livingstone, a woman with disabilities who died before the hearing started.

The province has said its policy has shifted and it is now attempting to provide more small options homes to people with intellectual disabilities who have been living in institutions.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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