Toronto Star

Jan. 25, 01:00 EDT

Hadley jury urged to limit costs

Queen's Park less likely to respond to `big-ticket items'

Peter Small
STAFF REPORTER
Toronto Star

Recommendations that don't cost a "huge amount of money" on how to prevent future murder-suicides like Ralph and Gillian Hadley's are more likely to get a sympathetic ear from Queen's Park than "big-ticket items," a provincial government lawyer has told an inquest jury.

"There is not enough money for everybody. There will never be enough money for everybody," Tom Marshall, representing the Ministry of the Attorney-General, said yesterday.

His submissions followed recommendations to the jury from other groups calling for a sharp increase in welfare funding, more government programs for domestic violence victims and a resumption of spending for subsidized housing.

"You may very well recommend to the government that billions be spent on social housing," Marshall said. "While that's probably desirable, is it going to happen? No."

On June 20, 2000, Ralph Hadley broke into the estranged couple's former matrimonial home in Pickering and shot her in the head with a handgun. He then killed himself.

Gillian Hadley, 35, had applied for subsidized housing in March, but poor supply and long waiting lists meant she was unable to find a place before her death, said Peter Pliszka, a lawyer for Durham Region's Housing Access Centre.

Not a single unit of subsidized housing has been built in Ontario since 1995, and the province has since handed over responsibility for this sector to municipalities, he noted.

Both Queen's Park and Ottawa should immediately provide more social housing, as well as "second-stage" housing short-term units that provide services for victims of domestic violence, Pliszka said.

Matthew Gaskell, the lawyer for Durham Region and its non-profit housing corporation, backed calls for increased social housing. He also said the province should restore welfare rates to pre-1995 levels, when they were cut 21.6 per cent by the government, and index future levels to inflation and the "actual needs of recipients."

Where there aren't enough social units, the government should raise the housing allowance for women and children fleeing abusive relationships to allow them to enter the private housing sector, he said.

Gillian Hadley received $800 a month from combined welfare and child support, which would not get her far in the housing market, Gaskell said. Welfare rates are "marginal at best," he said. "The situation is dire."

Ralph Hadley, 34, had been released on bail on Feb. 28, 2000, on charges of criminally harassing Gillian and breaching previous court orders to keep the peace and stay away from her.

Marshall said there are no absolute guarantees in granting bail, and justice officials involved in Hadley's hearing imposed detailed and strict release conditions.

"If you knew it all, if you were omniscient like God, we could make a prediction and we'd all be safe. We're not in that position." But he recommended improved bail procedures for police and specialized training for crown attorneys on bail hearings.

The jury will hear the last of suggested recommendations today before retiring to consider its own.

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