Many of us modern-day humans make the mistake of assuming old-fashioned injustice is behind us, at least in our part of the world. Unfortunately, current settlement cases , like the one involving Rideau Regional, remind us that this just isn’t true.
Rideau Regional Centre in Smith Falls, and its sister facilities, Southwestern Regional and Huronia Regional Centre are finally being exposed. The three institutional housing units, which housed people with developmental and/or physical disabilities, are being held to claims of abuse of their residents. After numerous complaints, as well as documented evidence, the institutions were shut down as late as 2009, and Ontario’s government is paying for their sins by way of financial settlement.
It is reported that many of the residents that lived at any of the three facilities faced physical, sexual, verbal or psychological abuse, during dates ranging from 1945-2009 (depending on which house the resident lived in). Examples of the incurred mistreatment include, inhumane treatment and abuse at the hands of some of the staff, including physical and mental punishment for “acting out,” unnecessarily locking rooms to create a prison-like environment; unnecessarily medicating residents, refusing to allow residents to bathe regularly, and forcing residents to work without pay.” Claims of sexual abuse are also being made by residents, many of whom were children when the assaults took place.
The Class Action also involves allegations that the provincial government is at fault for turning a blind eye to known and ongoing abuse. Simply put, the government knew about the living conditions and mistreatment of the residents, and ignored it. This claim has been backed by statements made by the Ministry of Health, and the Provincial Secretary for Social Development, both of which detail abuse, neglect and overcrowding as early as 1971.
Rideau Regional was so overcrowded that it housed 2,600 people (at its population peak) when it was only made to hold 1,500 individuals. In fact, since 1967, over 50,000 people have lived at facilities like Rideau, Huronia and Southwest. Finally, in 2010, former Rideau resident David McKillop stepped forward and initiated the lawsuit, claiming sexual and other forms of abuse happened to him and other residents, at the hands of Rideau staff. Since McKillop’s allegations, a class suit has formed, under the legal direction of Koskie Minsky, LLP.
Currently, people that lived at Rideau or the other two sites are being asked to state the abuse they suffered, and are being promised a minimum of $2,000 in compensation for documenting the mistreatment incurred. The 25-paged claims form categorizes abuse severity, with the most severe instances of abuse warranting $35,000 to $42,000.
Arch Disability Law Centre (We have a law centre?! ) is currently assisting with filing claims. All claims must be made by August 5, 2014. For more information, use Google.