Michener juducial review ordered
The judicial review relating to the province’s decision to close Michener Centre will be heard on March 13 and 14, 2014.
The Society of Parents and Friends of Michener Centre filed a request last month for a judicial review into the closure, a process that it hopes will force the government to explain how it came to its decision after years of assuring guardians and families that their loved ones would remain at Michener for as long as they lived.
While it is not expected that the process will lead to the closure edict being rescinded, those with the society say they want the government to have to detail how it diverted from its 2008 pledge in the How We Move Ahead report that no resident would be forced to leave Michener Centre.
“The judicial review for us is to just get information, to get the government to step forward and present their arguments to the public and not hide behind FOIP (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy) so that we can actually understand and get the truth,” said Bill Lough, society president.
“Given the history of promises that have been made, this is what we understood, so we’d like to know at what point did they turn face, and hold them accountable.”
Efforts in June to acquire government documents from the period leading up to the March announcement of the centre’s closure through a FOIP request resulted in roughly 80 per cent of the 130 pages of documents received blacked out.
The society is expecting the judicial review will allow it to see government documents and correspondence from the period immediately leading up to the announcement.
A judicial review is a special court process with lawyers representing each party in front of a judge.
Lee Kvern, whose sister Jody is a resident at Michener, said she wants to learn through the review when and why the government changed its thinking relating to care for the developmentally disabled, and whether it can legally close the facility in spite of its promise in the How We Move Ahead report.
With the hearing not until next March, Kvern and Lough said many guardians of Michener residents are wanting to see what the process reveals before committing to transition their loved ones into community group homes and seniors care facilities.
“Those of us that want to stay in Michener, we basically see that this is our time to just stop doing anything in terms of going forward with any transitioning or talking with the transition teams. We’re standing up for Michener by standing down,” said Kvern.
The judicial review will not formally delay the transition process, however. A spokeswoman with the Ministry of Human Services said work on transitioning 123 residents from the facility is continuing, respecting the wishes of the families involved.
The society is holding another general meeting on Oct. 6 to discuss the current situation.