Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Says It Won't Appeal Accessibility Ruling by Human Rights Board

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Says It Won't Appeal Accessibility Ruling by Human Rights Board

Article excerpt

N.S. won't appeal accessibility ruling

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HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government is promising prompt action in light of a human rights ruling that it discriminated against people in wheelchairs by failing to enforce a regulation requiring restaurants to have accessible bathrooms.

The Justice Department announced Friday that it won't appeal a September decision by an independent board of inquiry that stated the province did not regulate food safety provisions on accessible washrooms in restaurants with patios.

Chairwoman Gail Gatchalian ordered the Environment Department to interpret, administer and enforce the regulations as they appear.

The Justice Department said Friday it will fast track an action plan to ensure the provincial human rights decision is implemented in a timely fashion.

"Nova Scotians with disabilities should have equitable access to infrastructure, information, programs and services -- and ensuring that restaurants have accessible washrooms is part of our work," Justice Minister Mark Furey said in a news release.

"This is important work."

However, Warren Reed, one of five complainants in the case, said he's skeptical the promise will lead to quick action.

"I guess I don't doubt that they believe what they say," said Reed. "But I'm a person who is coming off an 806-day wait for a decision from the human rights commission."

The government's plan is to be developed in collaboration with the disability community and the restaurant industry.

The department said its effort will be supported by the newly established Accessibility Directorate and the Nova Scotia Accessibility Advisory Board. The majority of the advisory board is made up of persons with disabilities.

Reed said that his lawyer had spoken with the directorate on Thursday and was told that fast track meant by 2022, a response time Reed says is "completely unacceptable. …

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