NDP

NDP introduces legislation to require adequate services for low-income Nova Scotians

October 18, 2016


For immediate release.

HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia NDP tabled legislation today that would amend the Human Rights Code to require that programs targeted at low-income people provide an adequate standard of living. Yesterday was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

“As a result of this change, people in Nova Scotia will have legal recourse if their access to adequate food, water, housing, and access to healthcare or social services are threatened,” said Claire McNeil a lawyer with the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service in a statement.  “The proposed change in the law represents a huge step forward in the protection of human rights.”

Since the Liberals took power in 2013, the number of people going to food banks has increased by 7540 people or 20 per cent.

“While Stephen McNeil and his government have celebrated providing people on income assistance with an additional $20 per month, thousands of Nova Scotians are unable to buy groceries and are living in unsafe housing,” said Marian Mancini, NDP Critic for Community Services. “It’s just not acceptable that in our province more than 13,000 children were fed from food banks last year. Nor is it acceptable that people are living in buildings with raw sewage back-up because that’s what their housing allowance can afford.”

Last month, the Halifax Regional Municipality shut down an apartment complex for being unsafe. In an investigation into properites owned by the same landlord, the Halifax Examiner reported that social assistance recipients “were afraid to make any complaints and were told that if they withheld their rent their social assistance would be cut off.”

Today’s legislation would allow people with these concerns to raise issues through the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

“Food is a right, shelter is a right, and ensuring people have access to them is the right thing for a government to do,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill.

You can read Claire McNeil’s full statement below.

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For more information, contact Kaley Kennedy at 902-229-6881 or kaley.kennedy@novascotia.ca.

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In Nova Scotia in recent years we have seen a growing gap in the standard of living between the haves and the have-nots.  Evictions leading to homelessness, power cut-offs,  and the complete inability for the poorest of the poor to afford a basic, nutritious diet represent not only human hardship and health risk but a violation of human rights.

These proposed amendments to Nova Scotia’s human rights law reflect and reinforce Canada’s international commitments to the realization of an adequate standard of living for everyone.  

As a result of this change, people in Nova Scotia will have legal recourse if their access to adequate food, water, housing, and access to healthcare or social services are threatened.   The proposed change in the law represents a huge step forward in the protection of human rights. Nova Scotia would join a growing number of other jurisdictions around the world in ensuring that the rights that we celebrate internationally are actually enshrined at home. 

Claire McNeil
Dalhousie Legal Aid Service