BC NDP makes Woodlands compensation promise 0
Bill McArthur, right, a former Woodlands School student, talks to media about his fight for remuneration for his time at the New West facility, as NDP Leader Adrian Dix looks on. (SCREEN SHOT)
Compensation for all students abused at New Westminster’s infamous Woodlands School will be the first thing a BC NDP government will do if elected in May.
On Monday, NDP Leader Adrian Dix announced he would extend compensation to victims released before Aug. 1, 1974, something the ruling BC Liberals have not done.
“I know there is urgency here. People have suffered a great deal, including subsequently to the finding of systemic abuse. I don’t think it is right to keep people waiting for 11 years, to fight them at every level and at every stage in court,” Dix told media at the site where the school used to stand. “The government should change its approach here.”
He estimated the change would provide compensation for around 500 students who are currently ineligible. He added of the 800 students who qualified starting in 2002, only 14 have been compensated under the current government.
“Each time a claim has been advanced, I feel the government is actively fighting the claims that are advanced and they are just getting gummed up in the court,” said Bill McArthur, who attended Woodlands starting in the late 1960s.
He is one of many former students who would qualify for compensation under changes proposed by the NDP. Victoria has previously acknowledged many of the school residents were victims of physical and sexual abuse.
The facility opened in 1878 as the provincial lunatic asylum. In 1950 it became the Woodlands School for children with developmental disabilities, as well as home for runaways and wards of the court. It was closed in 1996.