Compensation extended to more Woodlands survivors

A class-action suit brought against the province by former Woodlands residents was settled in 2009. However, it excluded any resident who had lived at the institution prior to Aug. 1, 1974.

People who resided at Woodlands prior to 1974 will now receive $10K payment

A 2002 report found there had been widespread sexual, physical and psychological abuse of Woodlands residents. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The provincial government is extending restitution to former Woodlands school attendees who were previously excluded from compensation given out to survivors of the New Westminster institution in a class-action settlement.

"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 Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Woodlands survivor Bill McArthur, left, listens as B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks at Woodlands Memorial Garden in New Westminster in March. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

People who resided at Woodlands prior to 1974 will receive $10,000 in an ex-gratia payment. In addition, people who resided at Woodlands after 1974 will receive up to a maximum of $10,000.

A class-action suit brought against the province by former Woodlands residents was settled in 2009. However, it excluded any resident who had lived at the institution prior to Aug. 1, 1974.

'Sense of closure'

Bill McArthur, a former Woodlands resident and survivors' advocate, said he felt vindicated by the announcement. 

"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," he said. 

Demolition work gets underway at Woodlands in October 2011. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Woodlands first opened in 1878 as the Provincial Asylum for the Insane, undergoing a number of a name changes before it was closed down in 1996.

A 2002 report by ombudsperson Dulcie McCallum found there had been widespread sexual, physical and psychological abuse of Woodlands residents. 

The province says 314 former residents have been contacted about the settlement. It's also asking former residents or their guardians and caregivers who have not been contacted to call 1 888 523-7192 or email woodlands.care.facility.residents@gov.bc.ca.

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