I was pleased to see that a class action lawsuit filed by former residents of two institutions for developmentally disabled people has been certified by Justice Horkins of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The class action was filed on behalf of David McKillop by his litigation guardian Christine Victoria Grace Clarke. The class action against the province of Ontarion involves two schools, Rideau Regional Center in Smith Falls, Ontario and South Western Regional Center in Chatham, Ontario.
Former residents of the institutions claim that they were physically and mentally abused after being placed in the institutions.
The class actions were filed by my colleagues at Kirk Baert and Celeste Poltak at Koskie Minsky. I had the pleasure of working with Kirk and Celeste during the certification hearings for the National Indian Residential Schools class action, Baxter v. The Queen.
This decision proves, once again, what versatile tool class action legislation can be. The proposed class members in these claims, mentally disabled persons who were placed in the care of the government, are among the most vulnerable of potential victims.
Courts in Canada have enumerated three key goals of class action legislation. One of the goals is “access to justice”.
There is no way that the individual class members would ever have been able to successfully enforce their legal rights on an individual basis. The proposed claims are the best way fexample in the way which class actions provide access to justice for Canadians.
I’ll be watching the litigation with interest.