Some of the affidavits filed come from family members of Casa Loma and Comox Valley Seniors Village residents in Courtenay, along with other homes on Vancouver Island. The case started over care in a Chilliwack home. Black Press file photo

Some of the affidavits filed come from family members of Casa Loma and Comox Valley Seniors Village residents in Courtenay, along with other homes on Vancouver Island. The case started over care in a Chilliwack home. Black Press file photo

Seniors’ homes on Island included in class action suit

Plaintiffs applying for class certification have to amend their submissions

The applicants in a civil suit against the company that operates a number of seniors’ homes and the provincial government will have to amend their submissions.

The plaintiffs launched their case against PR Seniors Housing Management Ltd., doing business as Retirement Concepts, Cedar Tree Investment Canada Inc., as well as against the province’s Ministry of Health.

“The plaintiffs claim that Retirement Concepts and Cedar Tree Investment Canada Ltd. abused, mistreated and/or neglected residents of their care homes in British Columbia and that the Province failed to supervise the care homes by failing to inspect and licence the facilities and permitting the contracting out of care services,” Madam Justice Catherine Murray’s wrote in her May 3 decision.

The hearings were held last September in Victoria.

In response to the claims, the defendants have objected to parts of several affidavits as hearsay, opinion or as being identical to other affidavits. For now, the evidence is part of a preliminary application for certification in a class action suit against the defendants. A provincial government website section covering legal matters defines the class certification process in a civil matter: “A resident of British Columbia who is a member of a class of persons may commence a proceeding in the court on behalf of the members of that class.”

In this case, the plaintiffs are applying to represent the residents of several homes. Erwin Huebner and Krista Kilvert are siblings whose mother lived at one of the homes in Chilliwack but passed away in October 2017.

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The homes in question include the one in Chilliwack and others in Courtenay, Nanaimo, Victoria and Qualicum Beach.

The issue at this point for Justice Murray was to determine whether the plaintiffs’ affidavits to support their certification application should be struck in part or in whole. Some pieces of information, including media stories, Justice Murray deemed to be hearsay and inadmissible. She also found certain statements in plaintiffs’ submissions to be inadmissible. Other pieces of evidence, such as inspection reports into conditions at facilities, were seen as admissible. Because of the large number of specific points, the judge included a table outlining each matter.

Murray allowed the plaintiffs to amend their submissions in response to the ruling to address the shortcomings. In general, the weight of the evidence will be determined at the actual certification hearing after full submissions have been made.

The legal process began when the initial plaintiffs served the defendants their notice of claim in January 2019. Initially, they filed three affidavits, but in February 2020 the notice of application was amended to add 24 more affidavits comprised of thousands of pages. Along with those from residents’ families, there are a few from former staff members at the Chilliwack facility and a volunteer seniors’ advocate in the Comox Valley.

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