BC Government to Compensate pre-1974 Woodlands Residents

On Saturday, March 31st, BC Premier John Horgan announced that the BC government will be compensating pre-1974 Woodlands residents. The former “provincial asylum for the insane” was the site of horrific physical and sexual abuse, but government payments to former patients in 2010 only covered those who suffered at the facility starting on August 1st, 1974, based on a legal technicality.

The NDP government seeks to right a wrong through this action, Horgan noted. Horgan stated that the government wants to ensure that all currently living survivors of the Woodlands experience get the respect and compassion they deserved throughout their lives but most importantly since the government excluded them from the class action suit.

A class-action lawsuit was certified in 2005, which prompted the government to settle in 2010. The province offered between $3,000 and $150,000 for each patient in compensation. However, the government also imposed the 1974 cutoff date because that was when the law that allows people to sue government for wrongdoing, called the Crown Proceedings Act, came into effect. An attempt to appeal that was dismissed, leaving as many as 500 former patients at the time without compensation. Former residents said that the arbitrary cutoff date, though legal, was morally and ethically wrong.

Health Minister Adrian Dix – who has fought hard to get the original settlement changed – said there are believed to be between 900 and 1,500 survivors of pre-1974 Woodlands, and the government expects to pay between $9 million and $15 million.

Community Ventures Society is happy to hear about these recent developments. It is only fair to provide this compensation for the victims of these horrific acts. With the Woodlands facility being destroyed in 2011 and through this new government action, we hope it will enable living survivors to gain further closure and peace in this upsetting chapter of their lives.

For more information on this story, please visit the Vancouver Sun article published on March 31st, 2018.