Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Public Guardian Says He'll Fight High Court On Sterilization Ruling
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 25, 2003

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--Jay Chalke, British Columbia's public guardian and trustee, said Friday that his office will appeal a B.C. Supreme Court's ruling against 18 people with mental disabilities who had sued the province claiming it had illegally allowed them to be sterilized.

"This case examines a dark period in B.C. history," Chalke said in a statement. "Our office holds firmly to the view that historic wrongs are no less unjust because they are historic."

The 17 women and one man were forcibly sterilized while residents of Essondale Provincial Mental Hospital between 1940 and 1968, under a provincial law which was repealed in 1973. They claimed in the lawsuit that they underwent sterilization surgery for the hospital's convenience and without any scientific evidence supporting the belief that their children would inherit their disabilities. They also called the sterilizations a form of assault and accused the hospitals of violating their sexual privacy and integrity.

In its decision earlier this month, the province's high court wrote that, while the sterilization law has been found to be "widely discredited as morally repugnant and scientifically invalid", the plaintiffs had not challenged the law nor how it was implemented.

B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant acknowledged that forced sterilizations on people with developmental and other disabilities "now cause people some sense of distress." Platt told the Vancouver Sun that the province would be willing to negotiate a settlement with the claimants, but that they have been not been able to do so in the past.

British Columbia and Alberta were the only two Canadian provinces to pass laws sterilization laws during the last century. In 1999, Alberta's government announced it would spend $82 million to compensate 247 people who had been sterilized while in the province's mental institutions.


©2016 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.