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Nova Scotia fined for housing people with intellectual disabilities in hospital

Beth MacLean, the woman at the centre of a human rights case dealing with persons with disabilities and their attempts to move out of institutions, testifies at the inquiry in Halifax on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
Beth MacLean, the woman at the centre of a human rights case dealing with persons with disabilities and their attempts to move out of institutions, testifies at the inquiry in Halifax on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese

A human rights ruling is requiring Nova Scotia’s government to find suitable community homes for two people with intellectual disabilities who were confined to a hospital ward for years.

Wednesday’s decision also levies fines on the province for the time Beth MacLean, Joseph Delaney and the late Sheila Livingstone – who died before the hearing was completed – were held at the Emerald Hall ward in Halifax.

READ MORE: N.S. inquiry finds that hospital violated human rights of people with disabilities

Attorney Walter Thompson, who led the commission’s inquiry, writes in his decision that the care and housing of Delaney, MacLean and Livingstone wasn’t an act of targeted malice, but rather one of general neglect by successive governments.

Thompson found earlier this year that the applicants had been discriminated against under provincial human rights legislation, after a series of hearings that were closely observed by advocates for people with disabilities.

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Get people with disabilities out of institutions, rights groups tell Nova Scotia
Get people with disabilities out of institutions, rights groups tell Nova Scotia

In his ruling, Thompson says he will maintain jurisdiction to “monitor the placement” of Delaney and MacLean. The lawyer says that as of November this year, Delaney and MacLean were still awaiting a community placement.

He also ordered the province to pay $140,000 in trust for both Delaney and MacLean, including legal fees. The province is further ordered to pay $60,000 in respect to the claim of the Livingstone, with $40,000 going to her lawyers and $10,000 each to her sister Olga Cain and her niece Jackie McCabe-Sieliakus.