Care­giver’s fam­ily sues over foster home fire death

The Peterborough Examiner - - Local - SAN­DRO CONTENTA

The fam­ily of a care­giver who died in a foster-home fire is ac­cus­ing the On­tario gov­ern­ment in a $5-mil­lion law­suit of li­cens­ing a fire­trap.

An­drea Reid’s fam­ily al­leges that the home, about 58 kilo­me­tres west of Peter­bor­ough, should have never been al­lowed to care for chil­dren, cit­ing poorly trained staff, the lack of a fire plan or es­cape routes in the event of an emer­gency, un­break­able win­dows and “in­com­pe­tent” gov­ern­ment in­spec­tors.

“The whole sit­u­a­tion is out­ra­geous,” said Reid fam­ily lawyer Kevin Hen­der­son, who has filed the law­suit in Su­pe­rior Court.

The fam­ily seeks dam­ages of $5 mil­lion from the gov­ern­ment, a num­bered com­pany that owned the home, the com­pany that op­er­ated the foster home — Con­nor Homes — and the girl who set the Fe­bru­ary 2017 fire.

The girl, who has se­vere men­tal health chal­lenges, is now 18 and serv­ing a three-year-sen­tence for the fire that killed Reid and a res­i­dent, 14-year-old Kassy Fin­bow.

Hen­der­son said the Reid fam­ily hopes the suit forces reg­u­la­tory changes in foster and group homes run by pri­vate com­pa­nies. “They don’t want an­other fam­ily to go through this, “he said. The plain­tiffs in the suit are Reid’s hus­band, Robert, and her three chil­dren.

Reid, 43, was trapped with Kassy and an­other care­giver in a sec­ond-floor bed­room at the foster home on in ru­ral Oak­wood. The girl who set the fire had lashed out af­ter learn­ing she would not be go­ing home to the north­ern On­tario re­serve of Grassy Nar­rows when she turned 18. She used a lighter to set fire to books, card­board and a couch, ac­cord­ing to ev­i­dence pre­sented at her trial in March.

The law­suit al­leges em­ploy­ees should have known bet­ter than to give the girl a lighter some time be­fore she set the fire. It also claims care­givers did not have the skill or train­ing to su­per­vise the girl — who had schizophre­nia and se­vere de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays — and that the home had in­suf­fi­cient staff to “con­trol vi­o­lent out­bursts.”

The up­stairs bed­room filled with smoke shortly af­ter the fire started. The only win­dow was too small to squeeze out of, a slid­ing door was bolted shut and the peo­ple trapped were un­able to break its glass panes.

The deaths have sparked in­ves­ti­ga­tions by po­lice, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, the coroner’s of­fice and chil­dren’s aid so­ci­eties.

They re­veal a child pro­tec­tion sys­tem that doesn’t know if min­i­mal stan­dards of care are be­ing met and has no qual­i­fi­ca­tions for care­givers.

An­drea Reid

Kassy Fin­bow

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.