TORONTO -- A tentative agreement has been reached in a class action lawsuit involving 12 former residential facilities for people with developmental disabilities in Ontario.

The suit pitted former residents of the facilities against the province.

Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General announced the tentative deal on Thursday, saying that if it was approved by a court, a settlement of nearly $36 million would be used to provide compensation to former residents who "suffered harm" while living at the facilities.

The 12 facilities closed between 1977 and 1999.

The settlement agreement would establish a process for eligible former residents of the facilities to make claims for compensation.

If approved by a court, the compensation claims would then be assessed by an independent claims administrator and be overseen by a former judge.

"This tentative agreement is a step to address a painful chapter of our province's history," said Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario's Attorney General. "It is my hope that a settlement in this matter will help former residents who suffered harm move forward with dignity."

The institutions involved in the tentative agreement are: Adult Occupational Centre (Edgar), Bluewater Centre (Goderich), D'Arcy Place (Cobourg), Durham Centre for the Developmentally Handicapped (Whitby), L.S. Penrose Centre (Kingston), Midwestern Regional Centre (Palmerston), Muskoka Centre (Gravenhurst), Northwestern Regional Centre (Thunder Bay), Oxford Mental Health Centre (Woodstock), Oxford Regional Centre (Woodstock), Pine Ridge Centre (Aurora), Prince Edward Heights (Picton), St. Lawrence Regional Centre (Brockville).

Two similar class actions were also settled by the province two years ago.

A $35-million settlement in case of residents at the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia was reached in September 2013 and approved by a court in December of that year. A $32.7-million settlement involving former residents of the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls and the Southwestern Regional Centre near Chatham was reached in December 2013 and approved in February 2014.

The Huronia settlement led Premier Kathleen Wynne to apologize in the Ontario legislature for the suffering residents experienced there.