Labrador residential school class actions settle for $50 million

St. John’s, NL (May 10, 2016) – The Government of Canada and survivors of Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools have reached a class action settlement worth over $50 million, subject to court approval. The federal government will pay $50 million into a compensation fund and has agreed to pay an additional amount for healing and commemoration.

Settlement comes after 10 years of hard-fought litigation. The plaintiffs closed their case in February 2016 after four months of trial, and both sides asked the court for a break in trial to hold talks aimed at resolution. The parties finally reached agreement in principle at the end of March, and the agreement was approved by the federal government in April.

The class action lawsuits taken on behalf of residential school survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador represent the first time that survivors have been required to testify publically about their trauma. Twenty-nine survivors took the stand during trial.

Class counsel, including lawyers Kirk Baert and Celeste Poltak of Koskie Minsky in Toronto, Steven Cooper of Ahlstrom Wright Oliver & Cooper LLP in Sherwood Park, Alberta, and Ches Crosbie in St. John’s offer the following statement:

“The proposed settlement represents long-delayed access to justice for survivors of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador and it is an excellent result for class members.”

The parties appeared in court this morning in St. John’s to schedule a hearing date for settlement approval. The approval hearing is expected to start September 27, 2016 in St. John’s.

Over the next few months, class counsel will be visiting Labrador communities to provide information about the compensation distribution plan and answer questions. If the settlement is approved, class members will receive compensation related to the duration of their attendance at residential school and the level of harm suffered. Proposed distribution of compensation will be less complex and time-consuming than previous residential school-related settlements to ensure that aging survivors receive compensation as quickly and easily as possible. Class members can expect to receive compensation within a year of the settlement being approved.

For more information:

Kirk Baert
Lawyer, Koskie Minsky
Office (416) 592-2092
Cell (416) 595-2117

Steven Cooper
Lawyer, Ahlstrom Wright Oliver & Cooper LLP
Office (780) 464-7477
Toll Free 1-800-994-7477
Cell (780) 918-7964

Ches Crosbie
Lawyer, Patient Injury Law
Office (709) 700-0338
Toll free 1-888-933-2437
Cell (709) 330-3955