Following Monday’s decision from the Federal Court of Canada, the Ontario Superior Court has approved a similar motion to issue interim payments to Sixties Scoop survivors.
Canada’s $875 million class action settlement agreement with Sixties Scoop survivors set aside $750 million to compensate First Nations and Inuit children who were removed from their homes and placed with non-Indigenous foster or adoptive parents between 1951 and 1991 and lost their cultural identities as a result.
In his June 2 decision, Justice Edward P. Belobaba ordered the claims administrator to make interim payments of $21,000 to eligible class members.
The original class action lawsuit that led to the national settlement was filed with the Ontario Superior Court. Through settlement agreement discussions, the eligible class members were broadened beyond the province. The Federal Court presides over decisions that affect class members who are included in that broader group.
Motions were put before both courts to address unanticipated delays in administering the settlement, including concerns from challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that both courts have approved the interim payment solution, the claims administrator Collectiva will start issuing payments. Survivors whose applications have already been approved can expect to receive them over the next few weeks and months.
Marcia Brown Martel, lead plaintiff for the class action, said the interim payments were a good choice but said money doesn’t solve the harms suffered by Sixties Scoop survivors.
“It is a better step forward than waiting and having people wondering ‘Is this is going to happen? Is this something else that maybe won’t be happening?’ and things like that. That doubt, given time, always grows,” said Brown Martel.
“There is no payment that can undo a wrong. To acknowledge that wrong and for a country to say yes, this government has done something wrong, is the point of all of this. The sum of money is not and never would be compensation to fulfil an injustice.”
The 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada, a peer support and advocacy group based in Manitoba, also welcomed the court decisions.
“We are incredibly relieved that both courts approved interim payments to the class,” said Katherine Legrange, the organization’s director.
“We worked really hard to advocate for those who had gotten approval letters to get payments out to them right away… This is really good news.”
Like the similar court decision made by the Federal Court on Monday, all parties must return to court at a later date regarding the remainder of compensation.