A 2002 report found systemic sexual, physical and psychological abuse at Woodlands. (Inclusion BC)

Compensation packages begin to roll out for Woodlands abuse survivors

B.C. psychiatric institution was closed in 1996

Former residents of a B.C. psychiatric hospital who suffered sexual, physical and psychological abuse have begun to receive their promised compensation from the province.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the start of compensation Tuesday while surrounded by advocates for the Woodlands survivors at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House in Burnaby. He had made the initial announcement that compensation packages were coming in March.

“This year, the B.C. government moved to finally do the right thing to extend compensation to Woodlands’ survivors previously denied redress for the abuse they suffered at this provincial institution,” said Dix.

“We hope that by extending compensation to people who had been formally excluded from payment and topping up the payments that people received under the previous class-action lawsuit, they are able to find the sense of closure and justice they fought for nearly 20 years.”

Former residents will receive up to $10,000 in ex-gratia payments, which means that while the province is paying out money, it is not accepting liability for what occurred.

READ MORE: Woodlands’ survivors promised $10,000 compensation

Woodlands institution opened as a “Provincial Asylum for the Insane” of May 17, 1978. It provided care for wards of the state and those with mental and developmental disabilities.

At its height, it held 1,200 children and adults.

Woodlands shut its doors in 1996 and in 2000, provincial ombudsperson Dulcie McCallum undertook a review which revealed “systemic abuse” throughout the institution’s history.

Former residents were integrated into the community and in 2011, the last of the institution’s buildings were demolished.

The ombudsperson report’s release in 2002 sparked a class action lawsuit from former Woodlands residents.

The lawsuit initially included all former Woodlands patients. However, the province won its case in the B.C. Court of Appeal to exclude people who lived at Woodlands before Aug. 1, 1974. The exclusion was based on a law that came into effect in 1974, allowing B.C. residents to sue their province for wrongdoing.

The court said that residents could not sue based on the province’s liability for events that occurred prior to 1974.

Bill McArthur, a former Woodlands resident and advocate, said that Monday’s announcement provided a sense of vindication for survivors who had been denied compensation due to the 1974 cutoff.

Former Woodlands resident Bill McArthur when Health Minister Adrian Dix first announced the compensation packages in March. (Black Press Media files)

“Today I feel some sense of closure on a difficult past as I, and many Woodlands’ survivors, are finally achieving something we have long fought for,” said McArthur.

“Furthermore, I encourage other survivors to reach out to the provincial government to receive their redress as well. This vindication, I hope, will allow them to live the rest of their lives with a sense of self respect and dignity.”

Lawyers for the Woodlands class action said they were happy with the government’s announcement.

“We’re delighted to see that the Woodlands payments are now rolling out,” said David Klein of Klein Lawyers.

The province said that it has contacted 314 former residents of Woodlands. Anyone who has not been contacted is asked to call 1-888-523-7192 or email woodlands.care.facility.residents@gov.bc.ca.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Dancing with the Vernon Stars cancelled due to COVID-19

The event is the North Okanagan Hospice Society’s signature annual fundraiser

New president for Silver Star Rotary Club

Vernon club swears in new president and executive board amid COVID-19

New home for Vernon Search and Rescue set for public hearing

After outgrowing their current location, VSAR looks to move to Silver Star Road

COVID-19: Coldstream council ready to welcome back public

Seven individauls can attend council meetings as of July 6 amid pandemic

Noose graffiti not tolerated by Vernon resident

Woman, son paint over hateful image painted on neighbourhood fence

A list of charge rates or Crown referrals from police oversight bodies across Canada

Here are the rates of charges or referrals to the Crown from their most recent annual reports or online data

UPDATE: Highway 1 open to single-lane traffice west of Revelstoke due to flooding

The Needles Ferry is also experiencing major delays due to traffic backed up from Highway 1

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight on Vancouver Island

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

HERGOTT: The right to resist unlawful arrest

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

Most Read