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Claim deadline approaching

Cash settlements may be given to residents who were subjected to abuse or injury

Former residents of the Woodlands school in New Westminster are being reminded that a deadline to apply for a cash settlement as part of a classaction lawsuit is fast approaching.

As part of a 2009 negotiated settlement between former residents and the provincial government, about 1,000 former residents may be eligible to make a claim for cash compensation.

Applications must be made by Sept. 19.

The Public Guardian and Trustee of B.C. has not been able to make contact with about 150 people who may be eligible, said Stuart Chase of the trustee's office.

Compensation will range from $3,000 to $150,000 for those who were residents on or after Aug. 1, 1974, who can establish they were subjected to sexual, physical or psychological abuse or injury.

Gregg Schiller, coordinator of the We Survived Woodlands Group, urged all those eligible to apply.

"It would be nice for these people to move on with their lives and have some comfort for the time they suffered," Schiller said last week.

Many survivors of the school live in poverty with only a disability pension, he said.

"There's a lot of things they don't get covered with their benefits, like the teeth they need," he said.

"A lot of them had their teeth pulled out, sometimes without anesthetic."

Woodlands operated from 1950 to 1996 for children believed to be developmentally disabled.

Applications must be made by Sept. 19 to B.C.'s Public Guardian and Trustee at 604-660-5458 or through the Klein Lyons law group at 604874-7171.