Families with loved ones at Montreal’s Fulford Residence say they’ve been willing to work with the board of directors to find alternate solutions to its looming closure in September after 131 years in operation, but now, after little to no discussion, they say they are seeking legal action.
“After two months, we’ve been rebuffed in those efforts so we sought this recourse with Mr. Grey,” said Christopher Holcroft, whose 76-year-old mother lives at the private, non-profit home for autonomous elderly women.
Human rights lawyer Julius Grey sent a legal letter to the Bishop and Board of Directors on Thursday morning. In it he questions the decision of the Anglican Church, which owns the property, to give families just six months’ notice.
“Throwing these older people out during a pandemic and forcing their families to look for places at that time is unreasonable, irrational and cruel,” he said.
The remaining residents range in age from 74 to 104. Social workers from the local health authority have been assisting with their relocation, but according to Holcroft, most women are still living at the home.
Grey also calls the unilateral decision to close unreasonable. In the legal document he writes that “the board had the legal obligation to consult the families and give them a chance to present their arguments.”
“The attitude has been we’re in charge and we do what we want and that’s not reasonable enough in public law,” he told Global News.
According to the Anglican Church, the residence has seen fewer ladies move in over the past year, forcing them to close the home due to financial difficulties.
Grey, however, questions why it has to close having seen no financial documents to prove the claim. In fact he writes that the decision was much to the surprise of families, as “there had been no information provided to the families of residents to suggest that Fulford was having significant financial difficulties or was at risk of closure.”
The families represented by Grey want the Anglican Church to pause the closure of the Fulford residence for six months. They are also asking for a committee made up of board members, family representatives among others to find viable strategies to keep the home open.
Starting Wednesday they have 15 days to respond to the letter before the group takes legal action.
“We want to still work together, we want to understand and we want to help and we’ve been able to bring people together other people who want to help, so lets move forward in a positive way,” said Holcroft.
No one from the Anglican Church or Fulford’s board of directors was available to comment by our deadline.