Survivors of Canada’s former Indian hospital system have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking $1.1 billion for physical and sexual abuse.
The suit, which has to be certified by a judge, was filed Jan. 25 in Toronto by class-action giant Koskie Minsky with Cooper Regel in Sherwood Park, Alta.
“It is shocking that in the modern era, Canada would operate a segregated health care system,” Jonathan Ptak, of Koskie Minksy, said in a release Tuesday.
“It is necessary to shine a light on this dark chapter in recent history.”
“Indian hospitals” is the term used to refer to 29 facilities that operated between 1945 and 1981 for Indigenous peoples.
The law firm says there are thousands of potential claimants to the suit, who were sent to these hospitals across the country to be treated for tuberculosis and other ailments.
This suit includes patients and family members such as primary plaintiff Ann Hardy, who was a former patient in the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital in Edmonton. She was admitted to Camsell when she was 10, and says she suffered repeated sexual abuse by hospital staff.
The statement of claim alleges the hospitals were overcrowded and improperly staffed.
APTN Investigates explored this segregated healthcare system and also learned the hospitals were run much cheaper than others.
Full episode of APTN Investigates: ‘The Cure was Worse’
As well, sometimes patients were subjected to treatments that had been abandoned for non-Indigenous patients.
The lawsuit alleges many of the patients were children, and says they suffered from horrific conditions such as being tied or shackled to their beds for weeks or months.
It says patients were left with severe physical, psychological and emotional injuries.
Lawyers say in the release they are seeking $1 billion in damages for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, and $100 million in punitive damages.