Shortly after Joellan Huntley’s family finished their courtroom saga, Nova Scotia’s New Democrats are seeking to amend the Social Assistance Act so others don’t face the same struggle.
On Friday, NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald introduced an amendment to change the Social Assistance Act to prevent the provincial government from recovering money paid for the care of a person in need.
The province took the family of Joellan Huntley to court this past December for just that purpose.
Joellan’s mother, Louise Misner, said she supports the proposal.
“It’s kind of a scary thing to think you're not going to be able to look after your child properly when they can't look after themselves,” Misner said.
In 1996 at the age of 15, Joellan was left with a severe brain injury after car crash in the Annapolis Valley.
She has lived in a provincial rehabilitation centre ever since, with her care paid for by the province, while monthly payments from an insurance settlement, worth about $3,000, pay for extra therapy.
The province tried to recover funds from the settlement to cover the costs of her care, but settled out of court with the family last week.
“Any additional supports that people might need are often put on the backs of the families,” MacDonald said.
“So settlements, assets, need to be used to provide those additional supports and not seized by government for the basic care that everybody should get,” she said.
Premier Stephen McNeil spoke with Misner on Friday.
“I congratulated her not only for what she's done for her own daughter, but for the fact that she's moved public policy that any family in the future will not be affected the way her family was,” he said.
Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard says she’ll soon be announcing a policy decision after this week receiving the results of a policy review prompted by Joellan’s situation.
Bernard said there is no other province that allows clients receiving care to keep all of their insurance funds.
‘There are different ways to level out and balance what families need to make sure that everyone is getting the complete care that they need and also protecting the taxpayer of Nova Scotia,” she said.
A decision on the matter is expected within the coming week.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jacqueline Foster