A Toronto law firm says class action claims have been launched on behalf of former residents of 16 provincially-operated institutions for people with developmental disabilities.

Koskie Minsky LLP said Tuesday in a release that the province of Ontario has been served with class action claims alleging abuse of residents.

The claims allege that numerous specific recommendations were made directly to the province to identify, halt, report and eliminate abuse of residents.

But it's alleged no adequate internal safeguards were put into place to adequately prevent or report abuse of the facilities' residents.

Kirk Baert of Koskie Minsky says "these victims were helpless and at the mercy of the government."

The allegations included in the claims have not been proven in court.

The institutions involved in the proposed class actions are: Pine Ridge (Aurora); St. Lawrence Regional Centre (Brockville); D'Arcy Place (Cobourg); Adult Occupational Centre (Edgar); Bluewater Centre (Goderich); Muskoka Centre (Gravenhurst); CPRI (London); Midwestern Regional Centre (Palmerson); Prince Edward Heights (Picton); Adult Rehabilitation and Training Centre (St. Thomas); Northwestern Regional Centre (Thunder Bay); Surry Place Centre (Toronto); Durham Centre for the Developmentally Handicapped (Whitby); Oxford Regional Centre (Woodstock); The Nipissing Regional Centre (North Bay); and L.S. Penrose Centre (Kingston).

Earlier this year, an Ontario judge decided a $32.7-million settlement of a class-action suit is the best and fairest way to compensate victims of two now-closed Ontario institutions for the developmentally disabled.

The class actions were launched on behalf of about 4,300 former residents of the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls, Ont., and the Southwestern Regional Centre near Chatham, Ont.

That deal called for a minimum payment of $2,000 to members of the class and a maximum of $35,000.