Independence Matters:

Jen Powley’s Halifax apartment is buzzing with activity as moving boxes burst open, and her new roommate plans an independent life outside the walls of a nursing facility.

The scenario at a south-end condominium is the outcome of a provincially financed pilot project to transition younger Nova Scotians out of long-term care into renovated city residences with round-the-clock care.

Levack, a 31-year-old woman with cerebral palsy, has been a vocal advocate for persons with disabilities for the past decade, fighting to be released from a nursing home.

Meanwhile, Powley, an author and community leader who has advanced multiple sclerosis, has offered to take a roommate in her apartment, where she has lived with caretakers for 15 years.

The change, according to Powley, cannot come fast enough, especially in light of COVID-19, which had one of the highest fatality rates among western countries in Canadian nursing homes. Others will shortly join the two activists. Jennifer Saulnier, a 50-year-old woman with a spinal cord injury, confirmed in an interview on Wednesday that she will leave the Northwood facility, where 53 residents died during the early days of the pandemic, and move next door to Powley later this month.

According to Carrie Ernst, the director of Independent Living Nova Scotia, the non-profit that runs the project, the two Nova Scotia apartments required approximately $200,000 in renovations. Additionally, there will be expenses for 24-hour staff to assist with the care of the new apartment residents.

According to Ernst, given the requirement for full-time medical staff and the cost of maintaining and refurbishing aging facilities, the prices of long-term care institutions are probably greater.

According to the staff at some of Canada’s first independent living facilities, there is clear evidence that housing young adults in their own apartments is ultimately less expensive. In the U.S, the average monthly cost of a long-term care facility is $7,756 per month for a semi-private room. The average monthly cost for a private room is $8,821. This adds up to $93,072 and $105,852 a year, respectively.

Kevin Kowal, a human resource consultant at Ten Ten Sinclair Housing Inc. in Winnipeg, said the center had expanded steadily since the early 1970s, when it gave housing to persons with spinal cord injuries, into a system with various locations throughout the city, providing rental units and care to about 100 people. Kowal also emphasizes greater autonomy among the residents.

For me, greater independence is my favorite aspect of independent living. I can decide when I go to bed and when visitors come over. I can do my own grocery shopping and cooking. If I were forced into a facility, I wouldn’t be able to make my own choices.

I am thrilled that Vicky Levack and other people with disabilities will be able to live in their own apartments. Independence is essential for those with disabilities. Everyone should be able to live in their community.


Parker, Tim. “The Median Cost of a Nursing Home.” The Balance, The Balance, 25 Oct. 2021,

Tutton , Michael. “Housing for N.S. Adults with Disabilities Shifts Slowly out of Nursing Homes – Halifax.” Global News, Corus Entertainment, 18 Nov. 2022,

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