B.C. to reimburse methadone patients for taking clinic fees off welfare cheques

Provincial government agrees to pay back more than $5.5 million in deducted fees

An application filed in the B.C. Supreme Court says the provincial government has agreed to pay back more than $5.5 million in fees deducted from the income-assistance cheques of methadone patients.

Details of the agreement were filed by plaintiff Laura Shaver and outline how B.C. will reimburse 70 per cent of the $7.7 million, plus interest, collected from more than 11,700 methadone patients.

A proposed class-action lawsuit was launched two years ago aimed at preventing private methadone-dispensing clinics from receiving $18.34 a month that the government allowed to be skimmed off their clients’ income-assistance payments.

The reimbursement applies to deductions made between November 2009 and July 2016, when the fees were suspended.

The court notice says the settlement agreement was reached in May, while the B.C. Liberal government was still in power, but was conditional on approval from the province’s treasury board.

The settlement is subject to court approval and will go before a judge on Friday.

Shaver’s lawyer, Jason Gratl, says the average settlement is between $400 and $500.

The B.C. government has declined comment, saying it does not speak on matters before the courts.

The Canadian Press

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