Expert queried on risk in closing N.S. facilities for people with disabilities

A Nova Scotia government lawyer pressed an expert witness Wednesday over the risks of shifting people with intellectual disabilities out of institutional settings into the community, as a human rights inquiry entered its third day.

The inquiry is looking at whether two Nova Scotians with disabilities have the right to live in supported housing, meaning, in the community, rather than institutions and psychiatric facilities.

Michael Bach, a researcher and advocate for inclusion, was called to testify by the Disability Rights Coalition, an advocacy group for people with disabilities that is a complainant in the proceeding.

Kevin Kindred, a Justice Department lawyer, asked Bach about problems that emerged in Ontario, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador after people who needed supports to live in the community left institutions and the supports weren't in place to help them live on their own or with families.

Bach concurred with Kindred that there have been examples of inadequate support and that some people with disabilities have ended up in psychiatric facilities and nursing homes.

He also agreed that Alberta had re-opened its Michener Centre facility due to a public outcry about deaths of people who left the centre.