Plaintiffs in Four National Class Actions Team Up to Take Canada to Court in Canadian Armed Forces Systemic Sexual Assault and Harassment Class Actions

TORONTO, July 19, 2017 /CNW/ - Plaintiffs in four separate class actions filed in Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec City and Halifax have agreed to work together to take Canada to court seeking policy changes and redress for systemic sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination in the Canadian Armed Forces.

On March 27, 2015, former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Marie Deschamps released a report entitled "External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces". Justice Deschamps concluded that "there is an underlying sexualized culture in the CAF that is hostile to women and LGTBQ members, and conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault" and that "Leaders must acknowledge that sexual misconduct is a real and serious problem for the organization, one that requires their own direct and sustained attention."

Following the release of Justice Deschamps's report, a wave of class actions were filed across Canada seeking change on behalf of those who endured sexual assault, harassment, and gender-based discrimination in the Canadian Armed Forces. The lawyers in these class actions will work together to prosecute the cases together. The plaintiffs in class actions are represented by Koskie Minsky LLP in Toronto, Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP/s.r.l. in Ottawa, Quessy Henry St-Hilaire, avocats in Quebec City, and Wagners – A Serious Injury Law Firm, in Halifax.

"The Chief of Defense Staff, General Vance, has acknowledged what other Chiefs before him refused to see: that there is a serious sexual harassment and assault problem in the Canadian military. In light of this recognition, it is disheartening that our government is choosing to make us take them to court instead of admitting their mistakes and fully addressing this issue. However, I am glad that, like true brothers and sisters in arms, we have decided to come together under one class action," said Amy Graham, one of the representative plaintiffs one of the class actions.

"Joining together to prosecute these class actions is in the best interests of the class members we are representing since it creates a clear path to access the courts," said Jonathan Ptak, counsel at Koskie Minsky LLP. "The law firms that have joined together to prosecute this class action combine a diverse and complementary array of experience and expertise that will increase our odds of success."

The motions for certification, which will decide if the cases can proceed as class actions will be heard in the Federal Court the week of July 9, 2018.

If you are a current or former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who has experienced sexual harassment or assault, please call 1(888) 502-7455, visit www.kmlaw.ca/militaryassaultclassaction or www.ravenlaw.com/armed-forces-class-action, or email militaryassaultclassaction@kmlaw.ca or armedforcesclassaction@ravenlaw.com.

Koskie Minsky LLP, based in Toronto, is one of Canada's foremost class action, pension, trade union, and litigation firms. Its class actions group has been a leader in class actions since 1992 and has prosecuted many of the leading cases in the area. Koskie Minsky LLP was counsel to the survivors of former residents of Huronia Regional Centre and 14 other residential facilities for people with disabilities against the Province of Ontario, wherein the Province agreed to pay survivors over $103.6 million and to provide an apology to former residents for the harm they sustained. Koskie Minsky LLP was also counsel in Cloud v. Canada, the first Indian residential schools class action certified in Canada, which resulted in a $4 billion pan-Canadian settlement.

Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP/s.r.l., is an Ottawa-based law firm specializing in labour/employment, human rights, and public law, with involvement in class action litigation. RavenLaw has extensive experience in addressing systemic gender-based discrimination. The firm was counsel in the historic $3.2 billion pay equity win for federal public service employees, the $150 million pay equity award against Canada Post at the Supreme Court of Canada, and numerous other pay equity cases, including most recently the $45 million pay equity settlement at Statistical Survey Operations. RavenLaw has been appointed as amicus curiae by the Supreme Court of Canada and has argued leading cases in the area of human rights and constitutional law.

Wagners, based in Halifax, is a leading class actions firm in Atlantic Canada and has been involved in class action litigation on a local and national basis since 2004. Wagners acts as class counsel representing plaintiffs in a diverse array of provincial and national class actions involving pharmaceuticals, defective medical devices, pathology errors, product liability, privacy breaches, institutional abuse and environmental contamination. In the realm of institutional abuse class actions, Wagners successfully represented former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children concerning decades of abuse in a class action that settled for $34 million. Wagners also currently represents former students who suffered sexual, physical, and emotional abuse while attending province-run Schools for the Deaf.

Quessy Henry St.-Hilaire, avocats, based in Quebec City, serves diverse clientele in many practice areas, including insurance, administrative law and corporate law firm. The cooperation and the complementarity skills of the independent lawyers at Quessy Henry St.-Hilaire, avocats allow clients to benefit from their collective experience.

SOURCE Koskie Minsky LLP

For further information: Jonathan Ptak, Koskie Minsky LLP, (416) 595-2149, jptak@kmlaw.ca; Andrew Raven, Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne and Yazbeck LLP, (613) 567-2901, araven@ravenlaw.com; Raymond Wagner, Wagners, (902) 425-7330, classaction@wagners.co; Jean-Daniel Quessy, Quessy Henry St-Hilaire, avocats, jd@quessyavocats.ca, (418) 682-8924 #224

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