Liberals join mom's cries for help for daughter with special needs
Published Thursday, March 21, 2013 7:10PM ADT
A Nova Scotia woman who has been calling on government to change protocols around how her daughter is dealt with during aggressive outbursts is now getting a little help.
The Opposition Liberals are now joining in Brenda Hardiman’s calls for an immediate review of her daughter’s situation.
“I’m just excited to see someone is taking a serious look at Nichele’s situation,” says Hardiman.
Nichele Benn, 25, was born with brain damage and diagnosed with a brain disorder that results in periodic aggressive outbursts.
She now lives in a facility under the care of Community Services.
Hardiman says the department changed its policy about five years ago, and now care providers are required to call police when her daughter has an episode.
She says the change in policy has resulted in jail time as well as several assault charges and convictions.
“To me, that sounds like we’ve criminalizing behaviour that is something someone can’t control because they have a brain injury,” says Kelly Regan, the Liberal Community Services critic.
“We’re asking the government to act immediately to deal with this situation.”
The minister of Community Services says she made a commitment to talk to the Justice Minister and she has done that.
“So, through that discussion we’re going through with both departments, collaborating together to have further discussions on the particulars that we’re speaking of,” says Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse.
She says after analyzing the situation she hopes to be able to move forward with some recommendations.
For now, Hardiman continues to spread her message on social media sites.
She compares her daughter’s situation to that of Ashley Smith – a troubled New Brunswick teen who ended up taking her own life in prison.
Hardiman is worried about what might happen to her daughter.
“Bottom line is, we need to look at how we’re treating people with disabilities when they brush with the law.”
She says it doesn’t mean they are criminals, but that a different approach is needed.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster