Harassment and sexual assault: $ 900 million collective action against the army
The federal government will disburse $ 900 million to settle multiple class actions filed on behalf of victims of sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and sexual assault in the military.
The regulation provides $ 800 million in compensation for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and $ 100 million in compensation for another group of employees of the Department of National Defense.
In recent years, participants in several legal actions for similar acts and systemic issues in the military have agreed to cooperate in their prosecution of Ottawa.
For example, three former servicemen had instituted charges that the Armed Forces were “poisoned by a culture of discrimination and sexualization” that encourages sexual misconduct within its ranks.
Ottawa finally acknowledges the wrongs
In a statement released on Thursday, Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister of National Defense, and General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defense Staff, said they have an obligation to “provide a safe workplace for women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“We want the regulations to allow victims and survivors of sexual assault, harassment and discrimination to turn the page, to heal and to feel that their experiences are recognized,” they said.
The federal government first sought to defend itself in court – it even filed, in December 2017, documents for the purpose of canceling proceedings. But after being criticized, Ottawa finally decided in early 2018 to begin negotiations to settle amicably.
In the settlement announced on Thursday, the government is also promising an external review of existing anti-harassment programs and a review of how it deals with disability benefits for victims of sexual assault or harassment.
Each person registered in the class actions will receive compensation ranging from $ 5,000 to $ 55,000. According to a statement released Thursday by Deloitte, members of the group who “have suffered exceptional harm and those who have already been denied benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada with respect to this injury and whose request for reconsideration has may have been denied may be eligible for amounts up to $ 155,000.
Attorney Garth Myers, who was part of the legal team representing the plaintiffs, called Thursday a “historic” day.
The regulations also provide for the possibility of participating in a reparations program and several other measures to combat sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Deloitte also announced that the Federal Court will hold hearings in Ottawa on September 19 and 20 “to decide whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the class members”.