Update on Huronia, Rideau, and Southwestern Regional Centres Class Action

Update on Huronia, Rideau, and Southwestern Regional Centres Class Action Lawsuits by Marilyn Dolmage

It has been a month since the Huronia Regional Centre class action trial was stopped just as it began, and the settlement agreement was signed by the lawyers.

SETTLEMENT NOTICE and SUPPORT: Over Thanksgiving weekend, notice about the settlement process has appeared in a variety of newspapers.

For more information, please see http://huroniaclassaction.com - especially the contacts and the answers to frequently asked questions. This can help us all to understand the process and provide the assistance many claimants will require.

Letters will be sent to about 385 agencies that provide support to people with developmental disabilities across Ontario - because many HRC survivors will need help to make their claims and receive the compensation they are due.

Community Living Ontario passed a motion at its recent AGM to "encourage its affiliated local associations to ensure that former residents of Huronia Regional Centre receive truly supportive and respectful support in telling their stories and applying for their rightful portion of the settlement".

I am hoping that all such agencies will find all class members, develop specific plans for support, and monitor their effectiveness.

Up to $5 million - if it happens to be left over after all claims - can go to various projects supporting survivors, according to Schedule D of the settlement agreement - and there is more information at http://www.kmlaw.ca/site_documents/080659_PRELIMINARYAPPLICATION_16oct13.pdf

If the settlement agreement is approved on December 3rd, it will come into effect 30 days later.

That is when the "clock starts ticking" - and claimants have 120 days in which to receive a second letter (with the paper-based claim form) and by which they must have submitted their claims. That means claims must be submitted by about the first of May. Once claims are reviewed, it might be August before claimants receive their money.

RIDEAU and SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL CENTRES:

Class actions have NOT yet been settled, concerning these 2 other institutions that were operated by the Ontario government until 2009. David McKillop is lead plaintiff for Rideau and Vici Clarke is his litigation guardian. For information about Rideau, please see http://www.recorder.ca/2013/09/28/new-hope-for-rideau-regional-suit-2

I do not know the Southwestern class action leaders - but would appreciate being introduced, if you know them.

Both of these other class actions have been following in HRC's footsteps - but the lion's share of the legal expense has been incurred for Huronia.  Considerable time and money could be saved if they were to be settled at the same time - NOW!  Please consider contacting your MPP, the Premier, or Attorney General John Gerretsen.

GOVERNMENT APOLOGY:

On October 7th, I led a group of people to Queen's Park, where my MPP Cheri DiNovo (NDP critic for Community and Social Services) asked Premier Kathleen Wynne to commit to make the apology to HRC survivors, when the time comes.

Here is the youtube clip of Cheri's questions and the responses of the Premier and Attorney General: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UhyosmYHq8s

Please see Toronto Star coverage at http://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2013/10/07/huronia_apology_would_be_premature_says_kathleen_wynne.html

A press release is available at http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1238223/huronia-survivors-react-with-disappointment-to-statements-made-by-premier-wynne-and-attorney-general-gerretsen?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

I added this message to the youtube video of Cheri's question in the legislature, when I posted it on Facebook that day:

In the midst of a rude and raucous question period in the Ontario legislature this morning, there was a sudden respectful silence when the Huronia Regional Centre abuses were mentioned. Cheri DiNovo asked Premier Kathleen Wynne if SHE would be the one to apologize, when the time comes for that. She says she cannot commit to that yet - but she did meet us and we had a chance to talk about the issues with the Attorney General and Minister of Community and Social Services. I think there is the political will to do the right thing - and we'll keep reminding them of what that is... not just for people neglected at HRC in the past, but also for people neglected without funding now.

I thought that the Liberals should have been prepared to commit to the Premier making the apology. However, I hope that the Attorney General is now more informed - and that this helps the settlement to reach more people. We spoke to him in the hall about:

•           settling the Rideau and South-Western class actions NOW

•           ensuring that addresses are found for HRC class members

•           promoting support for vulnerable class members to make their claims

It has occurred to me that there is little political will to have any money revert to government. Politicians already consider that $35 million spent - and well-spent - on these worthy institution survivors. The public has finally started to hear their stories. Gerretsen said in the Legislature that no government could be proud of what happened at HRC since it opened.

 

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