More tribulations for Christian Horizons, the evangelical non-profit that runs some 300 homes for the developmentally disabled in Ontario and Saskatchewan, all on a modest $143-million stipend from taxpayers.
Out of an abiding respect for the public purse, operating costs are kept in check in part by eschewing the Godless socialism of organized labour.
“We have a staffed team of well over 3,000 people all across the province, and they have chosen to have a direct relationship with us, so they are not unionized,” CEO Janet Noel-Annable (2016 salary: $206,674.10, according to Ontario’s Sunshine List) told the select committee on developmental services at Queen’s Park a few years back. Wages for Christian Horizon sluggos top out at about $20 an hour, and turnover can be brisk.
Christian Horizons became a cause célèbre for bible-bashers country-wide in ’09, when the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal spanked them for firing a support worker, Connie Heinz, after she discovered a taste for sushi and moved in with her girlfriend. Apparently this was in contravention of the ministry’s Lifestyle and Morality Statement, which forbade same-sexiness in all its unholy forms. They were ordered to shell out $23,000 and had to drop their straight-and-narrow morality commandments for staff.
More awkward press for the righteous band of do-gooders last fall, with the arrest of allegedly very naughty nurse Elizabeth “Bethe” Wettlaufer, accused of fatally drugging eight of her elderly patients over a decade at three long-term care facilities and a private home.
Nurse Wretched began her career with Christian Horizons in 1996, moving on in 2007, before any of the murders for which she’s been charged–as Noel-Annable was quick to point out in a prepared statement: “We are shocked and saddened by these tragic deaths, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the Woodstock community.” Amen.
2016 had already turned out to be a disappointing year for incident-free days at Christian Horizons facilities.
One support worker in Peterborough, Janice Corley, was charged last November with assaulting a severely autistic group home resident after she discovered him naked in the kitchen, as one does.
That March, York Region flatfeet had charged another Christian Horizons sluggo, Jose Munoz-De-Rueda, with eight counts of sexual assault on male and female residents at several facilities between 2009 and 2013.
So the last thing the holiest corner of Ontario’s developmental services sector needed was a $4-million lawsuit filed at the Ottawa courthouse last month.
The plaintiffs, dairy farmers Matt and Jill Calver, their briefs carried by coruscating legalist Pasquale Santini (Kelly Santini LLP), are suing over a June 2015 fire at their Gananoque farm that destroyed their barn and incinerated the 45 cattle inside. They had bought the operation a mere month before.
The suit notes that John Smid, then 18 and domiciled in a Christian Horizons group home, pled guilty that November in a Brockville court to setting the fire.
A day or two before the cowtastrophe, the suit alleges Smid and a Christian Horizons handler, identified only as Jane Doe, were out canvassing farms in the area in hopes of finding him work, integration with community, etc. The Calvers initially declined his services, but when Smid subsequently showed up unannounced by himself, Matt put him to work for the day.
“In the late afternoon, the social worker from Christian Horizons telephoned the plaintiff, Matthew Calver, to advise him that the defendant Smid, had not taken his medication that day and needed to do so. At that time, the plaintiff, advised John Smid that he no longer needed his help and asked him to call Christian Horizons to obtain a ride home.
“The plaintiff, Matthew Calver, had to leave the farm to run an errand and left the defendant, Jon Smid, at his property waiting for his ride to go home. At 7:30 that evening, the plaintiff, Matthew Calver, received a phone call to advise him that a fire had started on his property.”
Local OPP solved the mystery in short order, charging young Smid with arson and destruction of livestock.
Smid and Jane Doe are named in the suit, though the main targets appear to be Christian Horizons, Christian Horizons (Canada) and their numbered company, 1959920 Ontario, Inc.
“The plaintiffs state that the fire was caused or contributed to as a result of the negligence of the defendants, Christian Horizons, that of their agent, servant or employee Jane Doe for whom they are at law responsible, and they breached their duty of care owed to the plaintiffs.”
Among their litany of alleged acts and omissions by Christian Horizons:
* “They knew or ought to have known of the defendant Smid’s propensity to set fires and failed to warn the plaintiffs of same.”
* “They failed to ensure that Smid took his medication on the day in question, and they failed to advise the plaintiffs of same until it was too late.”
* “They employed incompetent agents, servants or employees who failed to consider, treat or supervise the behaviours or actions of the defendant Smid.”
* “By introducing the defendant Smid to the plaintiffs, they represented him to be a trustworthy helper who would not cause damage to their property.”
Nearly two years after the fire, the Calvers say they’re still trying to recover: “In addition to the damage that occurred to their property, both plaintiffs have sustained emotional pain and suffering from nervous shock and the consequences of the loss of their business, which to date has not returned to normal. As a result of this the plaintiffs continue to require medical and other care to address these issues and have and continue to suffer out of pocket expenses the details of which will be provided through this litigation.”
Mercifully for taxpayers, the Ministry of Community and Social Services (Hon. Helena Jaczek, prop.) has not been listed among the defendants. Christian Horizons, bless them, has yet to respond to the allegations.