Next Steps for Huronia, Rideau, and Southwestern Class Action Suits
Huronia, Rideau and Southwestern class action settlements take place tomorrow and Tuesday - February 24th and 25th.
These hearings take place in the same place as before - at 330 University Ave Courtroom #5 on the 5th floor and begin at 10 am.
All of the court documents are posted on the Koskie Minsky website - 4 more for HRC and 7 each for RRC and SWRC.
You will see how difficult it is for lead plaintiffs and litigation guardians to be informed about this process, let alone have our questions answered and our input respected.
Some important gains have been made - to open up access to government documents, because Ontario now believes survivors, through the profound and far-reaching apology of the Premier - but power imbalances continue to plague this process, particularly when questions about settlement amounts, legal fees and expenses have arisen.
Monday is the Fairness Hearing about the Rideau and Southwestern settlements. This step was completed for HRC on December 3rd.
There is to be an opportunity for objectors to speak, and some of their letters are in the court documents.
Tuesday is the Fee Hearing where the judge decides about the legal fees and disbursements for all 3 settlements.
The lawyers will propose a plan to share costs among the all 3, proportionate to the dollar amounts of each settlement.
We are still not clear what happened as a result of HRC class member names being checked against Ontario's death registry, and addresses found through Health and other Ministry records.
If results are not satisfactory, the lawyers will ask for the government to pay for some type of "skip tracing" or other search.
The RRC and SWRC lists have not been checked, and are still extremely inaccurate. This meant that thousands of people may not have received letters about the proposed settlements.
Our lawyers will be presenting another version of the claim form and notice.
ARCH Disability Law has done a lot of excellent work on it, and there is an affidavit explaining why they do not accept changes the government wants (which I feel are intended to limit claims)
We have not yet been able to get any estimate about the timing of next steps.
SInce all 3 claims processes are to proceed together, we have just learned that Koskie Minsky may ask that all 3 claims processes be delayed another 90 days, while addresses are added and corrected.
Supporting people to make claims:
Once we have the claim form and know when the claim process will start, we want to arrange gatherings throughout Ontario to help people make the best possible claims.
It is too early to schedule these events.
Please do not organize such events without inviting or speaking to us.
Access to institution files:
People are starting to obtain their files, and while they can be troubling to read, there is very little info recorded, and unlikely to be anything to contradict claims about abuse.
Some people are still getting the run-around from MCSS FOI people though. One sister was asked to fax the same form twice - and still doesn't know why the file has not been sent.
Koskie Minsky has corrected the process in the info it posted about HRC, but has not posted this on its RRC and SWRC pages.
I heard from Heather Wright with CTV in Barrie, that the HRC cemetery signs are up - see http://video.theloop.ca/watch/cemetery-for-hrc-residents/3183303154001#.UwZFLxZZ5UQ
The government is unwilling to do anything more but erect a fence and has refused our request to use the ground-penetrating radar to locate and mark graves.
I really do wish we could get public pressure built up about that. And I think the government should be required to comply with the cemeteries act.
Otherwise, we are waiting until Spring to arrange visits to HRC, retrieval of artifacts, etc. Our opportunities to do all that will run out on September 17th. Because of all the delays, no one can have access to Schedule D funds (if any) in time to support such work.
I have spoken to Madeleine Spilak, the woman who spoke at the HRC Fairness Hearing, who is very disappointed to hear that she cannot make a claim. She since obtained her file, which showed that she was discharged just months before the class period started.