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Plaintiffs in class-action lawsuit seek compensation

By Sara Carson, Orillia Packet & Times

Two plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit between Orillia’s Huronia Regional Centre (HRC) and the province are appealing to Ontario’s new premier for help.

The class action alleges residents of the HRC — a provincial institution for the mentally and physically disabled — 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.

“Many of us will pass away before we see justice,” Marie Slark wrote to Premier Kathleen Wynne. “But we won’t give up. It wasn’t OK what they did to us.”

In November 2011, Judge Patrick Moore set the trial to begin Sept. 30, 2013.

As plaintiffs, Slark and Patricia Seth are hoping to see a settlement before the case goes to trial, said Jody Brown, associate lawyer with Koskie Minsky, out of Toronto.

Koskie Minsky is representing 5,000 former HRC residents involved in the $2-billion class-action lawsuit against the province.

“You have an older population where individuals have passed away or are simply getting elderly,” Brown said Thursday. “The abuse happened a long time ago, so the quicker the compensation for it, the better.”

Reaching a settlement is a quick route to compensation without dragging the case to trial and further, he said.

“(They’re) hoping, as a new premier, (Wynne will) ensure compensation is appropriately given out to the class members,” Brown said.

As the case is before the courts, Wynne’s office couldn’t comment, Kelly Baker, Wynne’s press secretary said in an email.

“... It would be inappropriate to comment specifically,” she said.

Baker did say Wynne will work with her new Minister of Community and Social Services, Ted McMeekin, to “transform” Ontario’s developmental services system.

“(There are plans) to give more people the supports they need to enjoy quality of life and participate fully in their communities,” Baker wrote.

Since 2003, the Ontario Liberal government has invested more than $575 million into developmental services, providing more than 18,000 people with support in their communities close to family and friends, Baker added.

Koskie Minsky is preparing to head to trial.

“(That) involves collecting evidence, witnesses and preparing expert reports,” Brown said.

Twitter: @Sara_VRoss


Purchase of the Huronia Regional Centre (HRC) lands are part of the City of Orillia’s major capital facilities plan discussions, says the city’s chief financial officer, Bob Ripley.

“It will be a discussion certainly because we’re dealing with all types of capital expenditures,” Ripley said Thursday. “It will be just on the fringe, if you will.”

The Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC) —a provincial agency — owns the 600-acre site on Memorial Avenue.

On March 17, 2011, The Packet & Times obtained correspondence between the city and the ORC listing two purchase scenarios.

The first scenario consists of 80.3 acres, which includes the HRC administration building and waterfront land on the northeast side of the property. The total cost would be $2,238,000.

The second scenario includes the above, plus another 114 acres, including more waterfront. The total cost was quoted at $6,541,000.

In September, the city began prioritizing proposed major capital expenditures over a 15-year period.

Ripley said he will be presenting a report to council regarding the HRC lands in the next few months.

It will be discussed in closed session.

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