Survivors of abuse at the Woodlands School in New Westminster say they're being denied compensation because of a legal technicality.

Former residents of the school for the mentally disabled were in Victoria on Wednesday asking the B.C. government to extend its compensation package to all residents who suffered abuse.

About 300 abuse survivors are ineligible for the compensation package won by younger peers in the agreement reached with the government earlier this year.

But Attorney General Shirley Bond says the settlement doesn't apply to residents who were abused before 1974.

"There's always going to be a line. There's always going to be someone on the other side of it," said Bond.

"There really does need to be balance here. We have to look at how do you attempt to mitigate for historic wrongs in a balanced way and consider the public interest."

'Unspeakable atrocities'

Former resident Bill McArthur is not eligible for compensation because he left the school 10 days before the cut-off date in August 1974.

He calls the government's position a cop-out, saying it could simply settle out of court.

"I saw unspeakable atrocities, children tied down to toilets while hot water was poured on their genitals," he said. "They have the ability to sidestep this issue any time they so desire. All they have to do is grab a pen and sign it."

Hundreds of students endured sexual, physical and psychological abuse at the hands of staff while in care at the Woodlands school, which closed in 1996.

About 900 former Woodlands residents are eligible for compensation, ranging from $3,000 to $150,000, depending on the abuse they suffered.