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Human Rights, Deinstitutionalization, Disability Rights, Ableism, Canada, Nova Scotia


Those who have not been following the human rights complaint, MacLean v Nova Scotia, should start paying attention now. The case will be heard at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in November. People First Canada, CACL and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities will intervene.

At stake is whether institutionalization counts as discrimination - and what, if anything, human rights can do to respond.

Beth MacLean, Joey Delaney and Sheila Livingstone, all persons labeled with intellectual disabilities, brought the complaint to the Nova Scotia human rights commission in 2014. The Disability Rights Coalition [DRC] joined in the complaint.

MacLean, Delaney and Livingstone each lived for many years in a locked hospital ward reserved for people labeled with intellectual and mental health disabilities (Emerald Hall). MacLean lived there for over 15 years, the others for about a decade.

MacLean testified to the human rights tribunal last year that Emerald Hall was a noisy, chaotic, highly distressing place. She hated it and wanted to leave. There was no medical reason for her to stay. But she, like Delaney and Livingstone, hadn't the funds to purchase community living supports. And the province's disability support program offered them no alternatives.