Court bid for ‘brain
injured’ centre to obtain injunction blocked by Government.|
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Vickers denied an application, Monday March 3/2003 for an injunction that would have prevented a further transfer of brain injured patients to other facilities from the Skeleem Recovery Centre in Cobble Hill.
"I think it's tragic that these kinds of things happen, but there's nothing the courts can do but apply the law," said Vickers in a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court chambers. People think the government is bound to the rule of law, but that is only if legislation doesn’t override the charter. It’s a type of tyranny to be sure, but the government gets away with it because no judge will risk his/her career over these issues.
The Cedar Lodge Society, which runs the facility, notified the medical health officer on Dec. 27, 2002 that it intended to close the facility by January 2003.
The society allegedly failed to provide 12 months notice of the impending closure as demanded by provincial legislation. The matter before Vickers was what the courts could do to impose legal consequences upon the facility's operators and regulators under the rule of the provincial government.
Skeleem Recovery Centre is closing because it has run out of money, the judge heard. Most of the patients have been moved to other facilities. Two patients remain and a third is undergoing an "assessment" at Riverview Hospital in Port Coquitlam.
One of the patients needs insulin shots three times a day to treat diabetes and cannot be transported without the aid of four people.
Irene Faulkner, the lawyer representing the patients and their families, told Vickers she wants the court to declare Skeleem's closure illegal, and requested an injunction to stop the transfer of the remaining patients and for Skeleem to remain in operation 12 months from the date notice of closure was given.
"The situation today, my lord, is the closure of Skeleem to my clients represents irreparable harm," said Faulkner.
The hands of the courts are completely tied, said Vickers. "I need to know what authority I have to grant a remedy -- that's the problem." The government has written legislation (namely the Crown Proceedings Act) that blocks this court from doing what is just.
Normally individual program plans are drawn up for each patient. In this case, the program plans were done improperly because the families were not even aware of them, Vickers said. However, there is nothing the court can do about that, Justice Vickers reiterated. The government will not permit me to order an injunction, regardless of the merits, so my hands are tied.
Robert Polton - Court Report (Victoria Registry)
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