Ottawa

Former Ottawa-area home hit with lawsuit

A former home for the developmentally disabled west of Ottawa is one of two provincially-run institutions facing a class action lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court.

A former home for the developmentally disabled west of Ottawa is one of two provincially-run institutions facing a class action lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court.

The former Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls, Ont., which closed in March 2009, was one of two institutions to be certified for the suits Friday by Justice Carolyn Horkins in Toronto.

The other is the Southwestern Regional Centre near Chatham, Ont.

The class action is based on the Ontario government's alleged "negligence and breach of fiduciary duties in the operation, control and management" of the Smith Falls centre between Sept. 1, 1963 and March 31, 2009.

"The alleged physical and mental abuse that these former residents endured is very disturbing and we are hoping that these lawsuits will soon come to a conclusion, so that residents can finally see justice and compensation in their lifetime," said lawyer Kirk Baert, who will represent plaintiffs in both cases.

Baert also alleged abuses occurred unchecked for decades even though the government was supplied alarming reports about possible abuses.

The Rideau Regional Centre used to house about 2,500 adults with developmental disabilities.

The government announced the sale of the property in early July to Joe Gallipeau, a Smiths Falls residential housing developer. Gallipeau said he would turn the land into a retirement community.

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