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Quebec’s youth protection system may face class-action lawsuit over abuse allegations

Protecting youth from youth protection
WATCH ABOVE: A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf on people who have suffered abuse while in the custody of Quebec's youth protection. As Global's Phil Carpenter explains, anyone who was abused or mistreated while in youth protection is automatically included in the lawsuit.

Ann says she was abused repeatedly as a child while in Quebec’s youth protection system.

“[Once] for punishment I had to stay in a garage for seven days,” she told Global News. “No shower, no brushing my teeth. I was sexually assaulted, I was beaten, I was tortured.”

Global News is concealing her identity to protect her child.

READ MORE: Quebec’s commission on youth protection holds English-language public forum

Ann could get compensation for what happened. Authorization is being sought in Quebec Superior Court for a class-action lawsuit.

“It’s about getting compensation for children who have been harmed by the system while they were in the care of the state,” lawyer Lev Alexeev said.

According to the application filed in Quebec Superior Court, that covers anyone who was subjected to any kind of abuse, including solitary confinement, assault, sexual assault, unnecessary medication or inducement to develop a nicotine addiction.

Alexeev said anyone who is or was mistreated is automatically included. He estimates there could be tens of thousands of potential victims.

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“Damages mostly relating to pain and suffering — we are claiming $500,000 per individual,” he said.

The amount for punitive damages hasn’t been set yet.

Authorization for the lawsuit is being sought as the Laurent Commission is looking into the funding and organization of Quebec’s youth protection system.

At a public forum held by the commission on Wednesday night, angry attendees said talking isn’t enough.

READ MORE: Judge slams youth protection for failing to protect sibling of slain Quebec girl

“The thing about these commissions is that there’s always the usual routine,” said Leith Hamilton, who attended the meeting. “It’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Ann, who attended the forum, agrees.

She says that that because nothing has changed, her 15-year-old daughter, who was also in child protection, has suffered as well.

“My daughter was sexually assaulted twice by the same kid,” she said, alleging her daughter was also beaten by security guards at one residence.

Ann wants people to know that the system destroyed her, even if her daughter is now back with her and she’s slowly rebuilding her life. She thinks she and her daughter deserve compensation.

She hopes the lawsuit will force the Quebec government to finally fix the youth protection system.

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Global News has reached out to the province’s youth protection department for comment.