Class Action Settlement Procedure for Rideau, Southwestern, and Huronia Regional Centres

 

Rideau, Southwestern and Huronia Regional Centres Class Action Settlements

by Marilyn and Jim Dolmage

The settlement agreements have been approved by the court and the claims process will begin.

You can find out more by checking the Huronia, Rideau and Southwestern sections at http://www.kmlaw.ca/Case-Central/

There will be notices in newspapers on Easter weekend, and through television, radio and on-line media through most of May.

The claim form package will be mailed on April 7 or 8th

We urge class members and those who will assist them with their claims to TAKE THEIR TIME to gather all necessary information to make the best possible claim.

Claims do NOT have to be in until August 5th.

Please note that the claim review process will take a while and thus checks will not likely be sent to those eligible until late in 2014 or early in 2015.

We need your help to reach all of the people eligible to make a claim - NOW.

 

Here is the time period each of the 3 class actions covers:

People who lived at the Institution

Residing there at any time from

Until closure on

As long as they were still alive

as of

Huronia

Jan. 1, 1945

March 31, 2009

April 21, 2007

Rideau

Sept. 1, 1963

March 31, 2009

Sept. 24, 2008

Southwestern

Sept. 1, 1963

Oct. 31, 2008

Dec. 29, 2008

Names: The lists first provided by government were full of errors. Since the government was required to check death records, we now have a somewhat better idea of how many people are eligible.

Addresses: There have already been mailings to notify class members of the settlements. The 2 HRC lead plaintiffs did not receive those letters – even though they get mail from MCSS every month!

All of the agencies in Ontario that support people with developmental disabilities should have received letters too and they will now get the claims information.

With all of the media attention these actions have received, we hoped that family and friends, agencies and allies would have made sure that eligible people were on the list and that their addresses were available and correct.

However – even though the government has been required to check and re-check its various databases, it seems that 1362 names on the HRC list are still without effective addresses. We worry there will be the same problems with the RRC and SWRC lists.

 Please HELP:

  • Check whether people you know ever lived in any of these 3 institutions and thus should be on the list.
  • If you or someone you know did not already get a letter notifying them of the settlement, contact Koskie Minsky LLP, 20 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5H 3R3 to ask that their name be added and a claim form mailed right away:
  • Report any changes of names and addresses.
  • Share this message with others.
  • It may be that some people have moved out of Ontario – please let people in other provinces know.

We encourage everyone to get assistance – BOTH to fill in claim forms carefully AND because making a claim might stir up some difficult memories.

ARCH Disability Law has suggested what you can do now to get ready to fill in the form: 

  • You can write down things that hurt you when you lived there
  • You can ask for help from someone you trust.
  • Did other people see these things happen to you?  You can ask them to write what they remember.
  • You can also ask family, friends, doctors, counsellors and support people or anyone else to write letters about how you are still hurting from what happened.
  • If you saw other people get hurt at Rideau or Southwestern, you can write what you remember. They can use what you write to help fill in their Claim Form.

We hope people don’t take the easy way out, and file a Section A claim that gets people less money than they deserve.

To file a Section B claim, it is not necessary or perhaps even helpful to recall all of the details – just to say truthfully and confidently what abuses happened.

You can refer to the points system in the settlements (on page 20 at http://www.kmlaw.ca/site_documents/080659_SettlementAgreement_17sep13.pdf )

The important thing is that you will be believed, unless the government finds information in your institution file that can prove you wrong. People who have already received copies of their files have found that some of the information written about them is upsetting to read. But they notice that there is not likely to be any information written down about abuse. And no one will likely have written that the abuse they remember did NOT occur. That means that the government is really unlikely to find any information in these files to disprove people’s claims.

The clearest information about how people can access their own institution files has been posted by ARCH Disability Law at  http://www.archdisabilitylaw.ca/?q=node/844

Claims can be made by those responsible for the estates of class members who have died.

Anyone can be assisted by any person they trust.

 We’d be glad to respond to your questions or to come to your community to talk to people about how to make claims.

Find out more about making the best possible claims:

The following dates have been set for information sharing:

On Monday March 31 at 3 pm, ARCH presents a webinar. To find out more and to register, please go to http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/webinar/asking-money-huronia-rideau-and-southwestern-regional-centre-class-action-settlements

Community Living Toronto is hosting 2 events with us from 5 to 8 pm on Tuesday April 8 and Wednesday April 30th – see http://cltoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/CLASS-ACTION-SETTLEMENT-WORKSHOPS.pdf

On Thursday April 10 from 1 to 4, we are invited to a Muskoka gathering at the Bracebridge Sportsplex at 110 Clearbrook Trail, Bracebridge. For more information, please contact Debbie Vernon at 705-645-0298 or email Vernon@muskoka.com

Please let us know of other events and if you would like us to assist.

The following information involves the visits to Huronia Regional Centre, which were guaranteed as part of its settlement. (Rideau and Southwestern have both been sold)

Plans are now being made for the first 3 of the 6 occasions to take place, as follows:

¬ Friday April 25 and Saturday April 26

¬ Saturday May 24 and Sunday May 25

¬ Friday June 20 and Saturday June 21

How can this help former residents?

  • To better understand their lives and the basis for their claims
  • Some people communicate without words and need to experience things concretely.
  • Visits will take both time and sensitivity.
  • Only by seeing for themselves will some people will be reassured that every single person got out; it’s totally shut down and unlikely ever to be used again
  • When “revisiting” the location and their own painful memories, people will need to be accompanied and supported by their allies. But this may be an important step for people to address the post-traumatic stress that continues to affect their lives.

Who else might benefit from visiting?

  • These visits also create the only opportunity since 2009 - and the only opportunity there may ever be - for students, agencies, support staff and others to see inside Huronia.
  • In the government apology, Premier Wynne said Ontario must “learn from the mistakes of the past”. Visiting should help preserve what she called  “the lessons of the past”.

We would welcome suggestions to make these visits helpful and accessible, but this is what we know about plans so far:

¬ Buildings will be open between 10 am to 4 pm each day

¬ More details will be posted on the Koskie Minsky website as well as on government websites. Please watch for updates.

¬ Once info is posted, you can let the government know you are coming, but it’s OK if an RSVP is not possible.

¬ Access will be available to the buildings that are still safe to enter and which are not leased out for other purposes

¬ We are making requests to access some places that were not on the list the government provided. Let us know if you have a particular request

¬ We can gather in a Reception Area (to be determined)

¬ People may want to see the new signs that were erected on the highway

¬ We hope to arrange some memorial time at the Cemetery

¬ We suggest you bring a picnic, although there are restaurants and fat food outlets nearby.

¬ Some people will be travelling from a distance; many cannot afford to take 2 trips; some lack stamina to walk very far, and we are aware that access to some buildings may be difficult for the many survivors who have mobility impairments. It is important that they not be rushed and so their occasion might require 2 days, so that they have equitable opportunity to benefit. If there is an interest in this, we could ask about special rates for overnight accommodation.

In summary - we are hearing some inspiring stories:

  • About how individuals and families are coming to terms with the truth of their pasts
  • About sensitive support provided to institution survivors by agencies.
  • We’d love to share some of these stories, because they will encourage others to do all they can.

The judge will continue to supervise all aspects of the settlement.

What people need is support to access the fund that is available for them – a tangible expression of the government’s apology, which we hope can make some difference in their lives. This is simply personal support and not legal support – all the legal issues are done.

THANKSfrom Jim and Marilyn Dolmage

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