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Gary’s Story

Told by his Daughter, Rita

“My Dad, Gary, was in emergency at Royal Columbian Hospital. He went there because he had an aneurism in his groin. He was there quite a long time—a couple of months—he developed a bedsore, and they sent him over to Langley Memorial and then, while in Langley, his bedsore got much worse.

I had asked, ‘Why does he smell so bad?’ and to my shock they reply, ‘Well, dear, he has a bedsore,’ and immediately respond, ‘Well, get him up more. Get him out.’ You know, they’re the professionals and instead of getting him up and moving him around, they put him into long-term care.

He suffered severe neglect at a place called Cedar Hill. He was septic. His whole back was black. You could see his spine. They finally did a skin graft on him back at the hospital, fixed him up, and then sent him back to Cedar Hill.

Then his legs started to rot and they eventually had to amputate both his legs.

One day with my Daughter and my Son, we went to go visit him and he was crying. He was crying so hard. My Dad was shaking at me and says, ‘Rita, come, come quick. It’s that nurse. The nurse is too rough with me.’ He was being treated pretty rough.

After that, I received another call; he’s bleeding from the groin and the wound care nurse that’d been treating him, she said, ‘Get a lawyer. What’s happened to your Dad is just atrocious; the treatment that he’s getting.’ So I tried to get her to put it in writing but because of the job and everything, she couldn’t.

I finally got my Dad out of that environment and into another place where he began putting on weight and was doing great.

And then I went on holidays and it was during the worst heatwave we’ve had—I think it was forty-two degrees. The care home didn’t have a fan or air conditioning and my Dad supposedly died of pneumonia but we were first told it was heatstroke.

I went to go visit the people that were in his room with him. They talked to him and had all become friends.

All four of them had died in the same week period.

Throughout this entire ordeal, my Dad suffered. He was starved. He was neglected. He had bedsores beyond belief.

It was one of the worst cases of senior abuse, and the RCMP was disgusted how badly my Dad was treated. And yet, had this happened in my home, I would have been arrested. But because he was in a care facility, they are protected and they get away with it.

This needs to change. So that’s why I wanted to be involved with The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society. We need to change the legislation because what’s been in place allows the abusers to keep on abusing. In my mind, the law protects them.”

Media Coverage

CBC News: Senior loses legs to hospital infections, bedsores

Surrey Now-Leader: Looking for change

Cloverdale Reporter: Looking for change

GlobeNewsWire/TLABC: Awareness Walk This Sunday, Father’s Day: In Memory of One Dad (Gary Davis)

Cloverdale Reporter: Cloverdale woman hopes to change B.C.’s 177-year-old wrongful death law


About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.

Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, is responsible for the modernization of BC’s wrongful death laws. Our Society provided David Eby with the drafted ‘Wrongful Death Accountability Act’ when he was acting as the Attorney General for British Columbia for 6 years between 2017-2022. The new Attorney General, Niki Sharma, also shares responsibility as she is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the current guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Sharma receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby, who is ultimately responsible for modernization.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

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Petition Your MLA Now

Unlike other Canadian provinces, BC has not made any significant amendments to its wrongful death legislation—ever. The current BC Family Compensation Act only values the lives of income-earners. This neglect must stop. Petitioning your local MLA, the Attorney General, and Premier with our automated tool can make a lasting difference to the lives of British Columbians for generations to come.

Dear Local MLA, Attorney General Niki Sharma, Premier David Eby, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General Mike Farnworth,

I am writing to you about the preventable death of 68-year-old Gary Davis and British Columbia’s woefully outdated wrongful death laws; which are still based on colonial-era legislation from 1846.

BC’s current Family Compensation Act only takes into account the direct financial losses resulting from the wrongful death of a loved one. As a result, only the families of deceased breadwinners see the inside of a courtroom in cases of wrongful death.

Children, seniors, people with disabilities, or anyone who does not meet the discriminatory criteria of having both an income and dependents are classes of people whose lives are not valued or respected when they are killed in BC.

This is a human rights issue.

Investigations into the wrongful death of these classes of citizens most often do not occur because there is no ‘loss of earnings’ to cover civil trial costs.

Accordingly, families have been denied the ability to right the wrong and ensure that the same preventable actions which resulted in the wrongful death would not happen to another.

Unlike other provinces in Canada, which in most cases have modernized long ago, many of your constituents are considered “worthless” under the discriminatory law in British Columbia.

Gary Davis, sadly, is one of these cases where no accountability can be brought against wrongdoers who were negligent in their duty of care. His story can be read here –

The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society is comprised of families who have been fighting for over two decades to see our laws modernized. They have drafted legislation that can solve this problem now.

These families, based on each individual personal experience of loss, have demanded that the legislation include the following tenets:

#1 The value of human life must not be based merely on whether the wrongfully killed was a breadwinner with dependants. There must be a legal recognition for the value of each life and the loss of love, guidance, care, companionship, and affection wrongfully taken from surviving family members.

#2 The value of human life must not be arbitrarily capped by legislation. Damages for the loss of life must be assessed individually by constitutionally independent superior courts, in recognition of the distinct relationship that existed between each of the surviving family members and the wrongfully killed loved one.

#3 All forms of non-pecuniary damages, including aggravated and punitive damages must be available under the legislation to be awarded in appropriate cases. Financial penalty assessed by a civil court when a wrongdoer maliciously, or recklessly kills another person is essential when criminal prosecution is not pursued or fails. General deterrence of future wrongdoing is an important objective.

#4 If an individual is not initially killed by a wrongful act, but later dies before the conclusion of litigation, this should not be a windfall for the wrongdoer. There should not be a perverse incentive for the wrongdoer to delay, or prolong litigation. Damages relating to conscious pain, suffering, and disability during the period between the wrong and the decedent’s death, including damages for loss of expectation of life, pain and suffering, physical disfigurement, or loss of amenities must remain available under the legislation.

#5 Families deserve the right to have their day in court with the ability to obtain professional legal representation on a contingency basis. No other piece of legislation in the province should bar the pursuit of an at-fault wrongful death claim against a negligent party. The contingency fee system does not discriminate socioeconomically, and it ensures the family can obtain the best representation necessary to obtain truth, justice, and accountability against a wrongdoer, no matter how big and powerful that wrongdoer might be. Families also deserve the right to have the case decided by a jury of their peers. This fundamental aspect of our democracy must be preserved.

What will you do to create a fair and adequate wrongful death law in BC?

Yours Truly,

Your Full Name
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cc: Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon, Liberal Critic for Attorney General Mike de Jong, Liberal Critic for Public Safety & Solicitor General Mike Morris, BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau

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