Ontario’s top court has restored class action status to a lawsuit that alleges the province has placed people with developmental disabilities on unreasonable wait lists for government supports after they turn 18.
In a decision this week, Ontario’s Court of Appeal restored a motion judge’s order that found there was a strong enough case to allow the suit’s untested claims to proceed to trial as a class action.
The lawsuit, which accuses the province of harm-causing negligence, seeks $110 million in damages and asks for a declaration that the government has failed adults assessed as eligible for help but who have instead been placed on unreasonable wait lists.
Marc Leroux of Timmins, Ont., launched the suit in April 2017 on behalf of his then-19-year-old daughter, Briana Leroux, who court documents say is non-verbal and requires support services 24/7.
The original statement of claim alleged the teen had access to necessary support through one government department as a child, but that was “arbitrarily and unreasonably” discontinued after she turned 18.
It further alleged that she applied for support as an adult through a different department and was placed on a wait list, where she remained for at least a year and a half.
The suit alleges the province breached its duties to Leroux and other adults with developmental disabilities by failing to properly manage its wait lists, forcing Leroux’s relatives to assume her care at their own expense.
A divisional court ruling had found the lawsuit’s negligence claim was doomed to fail and that the province owed no duty of care to the plaintiff, but the Ontario Court of Appeal set that aside.
The appeal court also found the initial motion judge was right to rule that a class action in the case would be a preferable course of action to promote access to justice and meaningfully advance litigation for people with intellectual disabilities.
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