20,000 Orphaned Children Who Became Mental Patients Thanks To The Canadian Government
I’ll be totally honest here, I didn’t find this one online on my own. I heard about it from the movie “Tusk” and looked it up so it sort of counts, okay? Anyway, in the 1950s, the premier of Quebec was Maurice Duplessis and he was a super-staunch Catholic. He decided that the Church should be the sole caretaker of the poor, alcoholics, orphans, and unwed mothers. Good idea in theory, right? Duplessis said he “trusted them completely” and signed over responsibility of schools, orphanages, and hospitals to the Catholic Church.
Well, there were a few problems with that plan. A lot of orphans were actually born to parents who weren’t married, but the Church didn’t approve so they were sent away. So not only were the orphanages fuller than they should’ve been, but the Quebec government didn’t get enough money to subsidize orphanages. They did a little math and found out they were getting $1.25 a day for orphans but $2.75 a day for psychiatric patients.
Here’s where it gets really screwed up: there was an old law called Loi sur les Asiles d’aliénés (Lunatic Asylum Act) that said you could commit someone to an insane asylum for three reasons: to care for them, to help them, or a security measure to maintain social order. So the idea of “social order”, not being directly defined, translated into 20,000 orphans being deemed “mentally deficient”. Suddenly there were a lot less orphans and a hell of a lot more psychiatric patients. Weird how that worked out.
These kids were subjected to abhorrent treatment, including sexual, mental, and physical abuse, all for a little extra cash — not to mention the drug testing and medical experiments, because you know, they were “mentally deficient” so I guess that’s a good excuse? The 1960s ushered in the end of the asylum era but by then the damage was done for most of the former mental patients; about 78% of orphans from this time period reported difficulty in maintaining a normal, healthy adult existence. They dubbed themselves “Duplessis Orphans” for Maurice Duplessis, whose poor decisions they felt ruined countless lives. As of today, the Catholic Church has refused to apologize.