$110 Million Class Action Lawsuit Filed in Ontario on behalf of People with Developmental Disabilities

On April 23, the Toronto Star reported a story about Marc Leroux, the father of a daughter with a developmental disability, who has launched a $110-million class action lawsuit against the Ontario government for failing to eliminate the years-long wait list for support services.

In Ontario, once a child turns 18 all services stop and the system for adults takes over. However despite an effort to clear the wait lists, the latest estimate is 14,000 adults with a developmental disability are still waiting for services.

In the article, the Star reported the claim notes that three independent reports since 2013 have outlined the “crisis” and urged the government to act:

  1. A 2013 Auditor General’s report criticized the government for “inconsistency of access to — and lengthy wait lists for — residential placements” and other supports for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
  2. A 2014 report of the Select Committee on Developmental Services said eliminating wait lists should be the government’s top priority.
  3. And a damning report last August by Ombudsman Paul Dubé, called Nowhere to Turn, noted “interminable wait list delays” amid a fragmented, confusing and complex system of community support agencies where demand far outstrips the supply. (A blog post about this report can be found here: Nowhere to Turn for Adults with Developmental Disabilities)

The class members are in need of services to live their life, and it is time they get what they have been promised and what they need and deserve, states Kirk Baert of Koskie Minsky LLP, the law firm which filed the claim in Ontario Superior Court on April 10, 2017.

The statement of claim alleges that the issue of wait lists for desperately needed services has been a repeatedly identified issue for years, which Ontario has continued to ignore and failed to act upon in any reasonable manner.

The claim alleges, among other things, that Ontario has been negligent, breached fiduciary duties, and breached duties it owes to the class members under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, by virtue of these wait lists, some of which can last for years at a time as a result of the broken system.

The proposed class includes all persons, who were alive as of April 10, 2015, who have been assessed and approved as eligible for services, supports or direct funding by a Developmental Services Ontario office, and subsequently placed on a wait list for any or all of the approved services, supports or funding, at any point since July 1, 2011.

The essential services denied to the class by virtue of the lengthy wait lists impact their most basic daily needs. The claim alleges the wait times are often indeterminate and will last for years, placing families in a perpetual state of crisis.

I have added the maiden to the lawsuit, as we fast approach one year of no services since she turned 18. If you are in Ontario and want to join the class action lawsuit you can send the following information to waitlistclassaction@kmlaw.ca :

  • Name of the individual assessed by Developmental Services Ontario (“DSO”);
  • Your telephone number;
  • Your complete mailing address;
  • Your email address;
  • Whether or not the individual assessed by a DSO office was deemed eligible for Developmental Services and approved;
  • Whether or not the individual assessed by a DSO office has been given access to these supports and services;
  • How long the individual assessed by a DSO office remained on a waitlist before receiving access to supports and services, or if the individual assessed by a DSO is still waiting to receive supports and services, how long have they been wait listed;
  • Whether or not the individual assessed by DSO would be willing to speak to a lawyer; and
  • Whether or not the individual assessed by DSO would be willing to swear an affidavit?

You can also visit their website for more information Koskie Minsky LLP

I don’t know how this lawsuit will play out, but I hope it finally forces the Province of Ontario to take action to provide these adults with the services they deserve.