SASKATCHEWAN BOYS’ SCHOOL AND ABUSE OF TRUST
July 5, 2016 7:46 pm
By: Michael Troy, Barrister & Solicitor
Merchant Law Group LLP, Surrey, BC
An individual who is injured through the negligence of another has the right to be compensated for damages incurred as a result of that injury.
The injured party must bring his or her claim within a prescribed period of time through the court, in order to avoid losing that party’s right to make a claim for compensation. The limitation period for filing a claim by injured party may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
As a minor, children do not have the right to sue, but their parents or litigation guardians can sue on their behalf. There is also a time limit in most provinces called a statute of limitations. For physical assaults beyond the standard of the day, those causing injuries that should have or did lead to hospitalization or permanent injury, the statute of limitations is two years. Sexual assaults generally have no statute of limitations. In Saskatchewan, once a civil claim is issued under the Queen’s Bench Act, mediation is mandatory. Both parties, usually represented by lawyers, must attend a mediation session through the Dispute Resolution Office. This is a non-adversarial process which is confidential. Both sides of the dispute meet with a mediator and hopefully come to a resolution. Anything that is said during mediation cannot be used if the mediation is not successful and the claim proceeds further in the litigation process.
An example of such claims are the Saskatchewan Boys’ School (now named Paul Dojack Youth Centre) claims. This is a youth correctional facility in Regina, Saskatchewan. It was initially started as a treatment facility by the Department of Social Services for young people who were having difficulty in school, home or in other foster care or youth facilities. Social Services considered it a treatment dormitory for youth, who through no fault of their own, were headed in the wrong direction. Many of the children were from aboriginal families who were survivors of residential school and suffering the after effects. Many of the children who attended the Boy’s School were having behavioral problems evidenced at home or school. Once a child is taken into care by the government agents, the government takes on a fiduciary responsibility to look after that child. This is the highest duty you can have in common law. Unfortunately, for some of the children, the government failed to protect them. One former employee, now convicted for abusing children, was allowed to sexually abuse many children under his care for a great many years. Once the abuse was discovered, the employee was terminated. However, it was not until the issuing of the Statement of Claim that an RCMP investigation was started, which resulted in the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of that government employee.
Many claims have settled through mediation. The following is a list of procedural steps in litigation:
- Issuing a claim;
- Examination for Discovery;
- Pre-Trial Settlement Conference and;
Mediation is probably the least painful step. It is a non-adversarial procedure. Nobody is cross-examined and both sides are brought together hopefully, to resolve the matter immediately or soon thereafter. Mediation is a painful procedure as the Plaintiff is discussing painful experiences of their life which can be embarrassing, shameful and hurtful to them. The government employees and lawyers are bound by the Law Society Rules to keep matters confidential.
It is up to the skill of lawyers for both sides that if the process is not harmonious, to walk away and proceed with further steps in the litigation process.
Michael Troy is Counsel at Merchant Law Group LLP in Surrey, BC. Merchant Law Group LLP has offices in Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Surrey, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, St. Catherines, and New York.
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