An action plan to help more Nova Scotians with disabilities work and live as independently as possible was released today, Nov. 13, by the province.
“This is a plan that will guide us over the next decade,” said Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard. “Together with our community partners, we will increase community-based living opportunities, modernize services based on choice, flexibility and individualized planning, and develop new legislation that will ensure a person-directed approach that will help people to live in their own homes and communities.”
Choice and Inclusion: Shaping the Future of Nova Scotia’s Disability Support Program, is the province’s response to a joint government-community committee that recommended transforming the Services for Persons with Disabilities program. The department supports about 5,200 people with disabilities, about one-third of whom live in large residential facilities.
“Nova Scotians with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else,” said Ms. Bernard. “We all deserve to live our lives as independently as possible. Each of us has the right to be full participants in society. That means full social and economic inclusion, and the opportunity to live with dignity and choice.”
The plan focuses on three key areas:
— increasing community supports so more people with disabilities can live in the community
— modernizing services and programs to make them more flexible and person-directed
— reducing reliance on long-term residential facilities
“This is a monumental shift in philosophy around support for individuals with disabilities in Nova Scotia,” said Millie Colbourne, a member of the joint committee and CEO of the Breton Ability Centre. “Social and economic inclusion is a right for all people with disabilities, and we can all play a role in advancing those rights for citizens in our communities.
“This is a bold move by government and I am thrilled to have been a part of the committee that has helped to move this agenda forward.”
The province will also invest in skills training and employment support, more affordable and accessible housing, self-directed funding models, and public awareness to promote the value of social inclusion.
“We are looking at a decade of change,” said Ms Bernard. “We would all love to see change move faster, but change of this magnitude takes time, and working closely with community to get it right.”
The plan is available online at http://novascotia.ca/coms/spd .