N.S. government looking to help 400 people with disabilities live independently

·2 min read
The Nova Scotia government's standing committee on community services met in Halifax on Tuesday. (Jean Laroche/CBC - image credit)
The Nova Scotia government's standing committee on community services met in Halifax on Tuesday. (Jean Laroche/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government is promising to help everyone who is currently on the list waiting for the supports they need to live independently.

According to Community Services, the department in charge of the Independent Living Support Program, there are currently 400 Nova Scotians with a disability on the wait list for the program.

The department's deputy minister Tracey Taweel told a legislature committee Tuesday, thanks to an $8.3-million boost in the program's budget this year, and another $17 million increase planned for next year, the department could eliminate that wait list over the next two years.

"We will be able to successfully have 200 people move off the wait list this year and another 200 next year," Taweel told the standing committee on community services. "That's the goal."

Jean Laroche/CBC
Jean Laroche/CBC

It's an ambitious target given the limited number of people who have been able to move to independent living through the program in recent years.

Last year, 86 people moved to independent living, as a result of supports provided by the province. That was almost twice as many as the previous year — 44. In 2018/2019, there were only 29 new participants to the program.

The province is also currently in the midst of a housing crisis which Taweel admits poses a "challenge".

"We're going to the best we absolutely can to make sure that that we move people as quickly as we possibly can and support them to live the life of their choosing independently, in community," she told CBC News following the committee meeting.

Taweel also told the all-party committee the province is looking at three new pilot projects designed to provide "wrap-around services" for struggling families in need of help. That assistance will come more often from community organizations in the future, she said, using department funds.

"The time has long since passed where government should be swooping in and acting like we know better than our service providers and we know better than community members," she said.

Trina Fraser, executive director of the East Preston Daycare and Family Resource Centre, also spoke to the committee Tuesday and endorsed the department's move to allow community groups to provide local family supports.

Jean Laroche/CBC
Jean Laroche/CBC

Fraser said it lets local organizations take the lead their own communities. "It allows us to give a voice to what we may be going through."

"I do wish they existed back when I was going through many of the things that I was going through as a young mom with a child with special needs."

These are the three programs the department will test in communities:

  • To help families plan for transitions, such as children moving from daycare to school.

  • To help families with unexpected events or a crisis.

  • Providing peer support for families.

The department has not yet chosen the communities.

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