Did Premier Kathleen Wynne Break Her Promise to Abused Institutional Survivors?

Before she was Premier, Wynne said she would help but now that she is Premier, the victims are ignored

TORONTO, May 31, 2013 /CNW/ - Survivors of the Huronia Regional Centre (HRC) have followed up on yesterday's dramatic Queen's Park press conference, demanding to know why - after a full year - Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has yet to make good on a personal promise she made to address the horrific abuse they suffered.

Patricia Seth and Marie Slark, plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against HRC and the province of Ontario, met with Wynne at a Truth and Reconciliation gathering in Toronto - exactly a year ago this week - and told her about the abuse they endured by those entrusted to care for and protect them. Patricia and Marie were impressed with the attention the Premier paid to their plight. "She really seemed to care about us," recalls Marie of the meeting. Patricia added, "Kathleen looked us right in the eye and said she would help us. But she hasn't. Nothing has happened and we never heard from her again. Justice seems so far away."

The institutional survivors followed up on their meeting with Wynne. In January 2013, Patricia and Marie wrote to the then-Minister during the Ontario Liberal leadership race, imploring Wynne to help them and all the other victims receive justice in a fair and timely manner. "She never really responded to that," said Patricia.

Patricia was sent to HRC when she was just six years old and was not discharged from the institution until 17 years later. Patricia said:  "Living there was like being in jail and our only crime was being disabled. I thought I would die in there." Marie, who was institutionalized at HRC from the age of seven until 16 said: "When I lived at Huronia I never had any control of my life. I hated it there." Both women recollect a childhood filled with abuse and fear.

Ms. Slark and Ms. Seth are proceeding with a class action lawsuit against the Ontario government to seek justice and compensation for the severe abuse they endured while residing at HRC. HRC opened in 1876, housing people who were deemed to have cognitive and other disabilities. At its peak, more that 2,500 people lived at HRC and by the mid-1970s, the Ontario government operated 16 such facilities. The Liberal government closed the last of these institutions on March 31, 2009.

Victims of institutional abuse in Ontario are dying before seeing the justice they deserve, and they say it is time for the Wynne government to stop dragging its feet. Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the province of Ontario have been subjected to extraordinary government delays that their lawyer - Kirk Baert of Koskie Minsky LLP -says he has never before seen in 20 years of practice. "Premier Wynne and her Attorney General must stop playing politics with these victims' lives and finally give them the justice they deserve," stated Baert.

Koskie Minsky LLP is representing the former HRC residents involved in the $2-billion class action lawsuit against the province of Ontario.

The class action alleges residents of the HRC suffered inhumane treatment from 1945 until its closure in 2009 and that the province of Ontario failed to properly care for, and protect, those under its care.

SOURCE: Koskie Minsky LLP

For further information:

Celeste Poltak 
Koskie Minsky LLP
cpoltak@kmlaw.ca
(416) 595-2701


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