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Ontario Court of Appeal Overturns Certification of Class Action Lawsuit for Severely Disabled Children

Friday, November 24th 2006 1:37:24pm

(Toronto, Ontario, November 24, 2006)  In a unanimous decision released today, the Court of Appeal for Ontario allowed the Government of Ontario’s appeal in the case of Larcade v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario as represented by the Minister of Community and Social Services and overturned a unanimous lower Court decision that would have allowed the lawsuit to proceed as a Class Action.  

Thousands of Ontario’s most severely disabled children are affected by this decision.

The class action lawsuit, brought by representative plaintiffs’ Anne Larcade (from Huntsville, Ontario) and her disabled son Alexandre, alleges that the Ontario Government was negligent and failed to meet its legal obligation to provide services for severely disabled children that ought to have been provided through Special Needs Agreements. The suit alleges that the Harris government simply stopped providing the agreements contrary to the statute.  As a result of the Ontario Government’s negligence, families were forced to personally fund services for their severely disabled children and, in some cases, relinquish custody of their children to the government in order to obtain life-saving services.  In May 2005 the Divisional Court certified the action as a class proceeding.  

Representative Plaintiff Anne Larcade was deeply upset by the Court of Appeal’s decision.  According to Ms. Larcade:  “I am devastated.  This decision is not only bad for myself and Alexandre, but for the thousands of other families with vulnerable, severely disabled children living in Ontario.”

“I do not understand how, in the face of the Report of the Ombudsman of Ontario (May 2005) that concluded a terrible injustice was done to these children, that the Court could find that we had no right to even sue the Government.”  

“According to this decision, the Government of Ontario can force good parents to surrender custody of their children to the Province and you can’t do anything about it.”

Ms. Larcade has instructed her lawyer, Won J. Kim of Roy Elliott Kim O’Connor, to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

According to Mr. Kim:  “This is a very important decision involving the rights of parents, disabled children and the state.  We believe that there are grounds for appeal and look forward to the Supreme Court resolving these issues.”

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