Nova Scotia slow to provide housing, care for people with disabilities: report

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A new report by the  Community Homes Action Group says Nova Scotia is moving too slowly at helping people with intellectual disabilities in the province, specifically in providing community-based homes that are required.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia pumping $3M to better lives of persons with disabilities

About three quarters of the 137 people with disabilities and their caregivers who completed the survey last year say progress has been “poor” in providing community-based housing.

“We are looking for ways for people to be living in the community, doing things that they want to be doing. At the moment, there are very few opportunities for that,” said Lois Miller with the Community Homes Action Group.

The survey released Monday suggests 75 per cent of the people surveyed also said there was poor progress in decreasing wait time for services.

Some aging parents say they continue to worry that without improvements, they fear that when they die their children will not have an appropriate place to live.

“We’re ready for Mallory to move out so that she can spread her wings and live a life of her own,” said Barb Horner., who has been waiting years to find a suitable living arrangement for her 32-year-old daughter, Mallory.

READ MORE: Aging Nova Scotia parents worried by waiting lists for children with disabilities

Horner believes if the government allocated funds differently and provided individualized funding, Mallory could live anywhere.

“What we actually need for her more than anything right now is not a special home for her to go to, but funding for staffing so that she can move out,” she said.

“Right now, government is focusing on a very few number of people. Their waitlist doesn’t go away because they’re waiting for beds as they refer to them rather than looking at individuals and funding them for what they need to be able to live in community with success.”

The province says its disability support program’s budget is $319.3 million, including $3 million for new initiatives.

It says the new money has helped 16 people move to new homes, while it expects about 40 people will be moved by June 30.

Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard said they’re making progress and are currently three years into a 10-year plan to transform services for Nova Scotians with disabilities.

“We’ve looked at other jurisdictions across Canada that have done this in a quicker time frame, both with poor outcomes and tragedy, especially in Ontario,” she said. “I am not prepared nor is this government prepared to put people in harm’s way to fit a timeline that’s not feasible.”

READ MORE: Accessibility advocates give blistering critique of Nova Scotia legislation, government hits pause

As for when institutions will close permanently, that’s still unclear.

“There’s no set date. We certainly have stopped taking long term admissions into residential facilities. We stopped that last summer,” said Bernard.