Individual payments will flow to those already deemed eligible as well as to applicants approved in the months ahead, as the review process continues
OTTAWA, June 1, 2020 /CNW/ - Today, the Federal Court of Canada approved an order allowing the Administrator of the Sixties Scoop Class Action (Collectiva) to issue interim payments of $21,000 to all Eligible Class Members. To date, over 12,500 individuals have been deemed eligible for individual payment as part of a national settlement between the Government of Canada and plaintiffs representing Sixties Scoop Survivors. A similar order to issue interim payments is being placed in front of the Ontario Superior Court, which also presides over the Settlement.
This announcement comes in the wake of delays to the claims process resulting from COVID-19. To protect public health, a number of provincial archives have closed. These archives contain important information that the Administrator needs to verify some people's claims. Further, social distancing has created barriers for Applicants seeking information and support to back up claims that have been flagged by the Administrator as incomplete.
"We recognize the huge emotional toll this process and delay has had on applicants. Under these circumstances, the fair and necessary thing to do was to make sure no one's application is denied while we're still in this period of uncertainty," explains Doug Lennox of Klein Lawyers. Lennox represents one of the four law firms that helped negotiate the Settlement and provides ongoing counsel to Class Members. "Because of this decision, it will take a little longer to determine the total number of eligible applications and, therefore, the final individual payment amount that each person will ultimately receive," said Lennox.
"Class Members deserve and are owed justice," said Lennox. "The interim payment is about keeping that process of justice moving. It's the right thing to do."
Approvals are still happening
For the thousands of applicants still awaiting a decision on their application, Lennox acknowledges their understandable anxiety and frustration. "We know this has been very hard on people. We want applicants to know that, while the Administrator is not denying any claims right now, they are still doing the work to approve them. Those efforts may be more difficult because of the pandemic, but they are happening."
Individuals whose applications are approved in the weeks and months ahead will also receive the interim payment of $21,000 as soon as it is determined that they are eligible, Lennox confirmed.
The pause on application denials and timelines is a critical opportunity for applicants who received a "Notice of Intent to Reject letter" from the Administrator dated in either February or March of 2020. Lennox's advice to those individuals is clear: "Please get in touch with Class Counsel. We can review your claim and offer guidance that may help you demonstrate your eligibility. We are here to give you the support you are owed." Applicants have the right to legal counsel from the four law firms involved in the settlement. These services are paid for by the settlement and can be accessed by Class Members at no additional cost to them.
Currently, the Administrator is closely monitoring provincial public health updates and is in discussion with Indigenous partners to determine a threshold for when it will be safe and fair to reinstate timelines for incomplete applications and resume the process of issuing denials, where appropriate.
Lennox understands that many applicants are wondering when a second and final payment will be able to be made to those found eligible. "All the parties will return to court at a later date to seek an order that will answer that question," he explains.
Lennox hopes that today's announcement offers a glimmer of optimism for applicants. "Making your claim—that was a tremendous step on this long and difficult journey. I honour the strength of every person who is going through this process. We are fully committed to keeping you as informed as possible through this uncertain time. We are grateful for your patience."
For more information, please visit: https://www.sixtiesscoopsettlement.info/
SOURCE Collectiva Class Action Services
For further information: To schedule an interview with Doug Lennox, or for any other media inquiries, please contact: Heather Risdon, 416-968-7311 ext: 235, [email protected]